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Full text of "Citation and examination of William Shakespeare, Euseby Treen, Joseph Carnaby and Silas Gough, clerk before the worshipful Sir Thomas Lucy, Knight, touching deer-stealing on the 19th day of September in the year of Grace 1582, now first published from original papers"

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JOSEPH M^nnMnti 






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On the 19M day of September in the year of Graee 1582 


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^' It was an ancestor of my husband who 
brought out the famous Shakspeare." 

These words were really spoken, and 
were repeated in conversation as most 
ridiculous. Certainly such was very far 
from the lady's intention ; and who knows 
to what extent they are true ? 

The frolic of Shakspeare in deer- 
stealing was the cause of his Hegira ; and 
his connexion with players in London 


vi editor's preface. 

was the cause of his writing plays. Had 
he remained in his native town, his am- 
bition had never been excited by the 
applause of the intellectual, the popular, 
and the powerful, which, after all, was 
hardly sufficient to excite it. He wrote 
from the same motive as he acted; to 
earn his daily bread. He felt his own 
powers, but he cared little for making 
them felt by others more than served 
his wants. 

The malignant may doubt, or pretend 
to doubt, the authenticity of the Exami- 
nation here published. Let us, who are 
not malignant, be cautious of adding any 
thing to the noisome mass of incredulity 
that surrounds us : let us avoid the crying 


sin of our age, in which the Memoirs of 
a Parish Clerk, edited as they were by 
a pious and learned dignitary of the 
estabHshed church, are questioned in re- 
gard to their genuineness ; and even the 
privileges of Parliament are inadequate 
to cover from the foulest imputation, the 
imputation of having exercised his in- 
ventive faculties, the elegant and accom- 
pUshed editor of Eugene Aram's appre- 
hension, trial, and defence. 

Indeed, there is little of real history, 
excepting in romances. Some of these 
are strictly true to nature ; while histories 
in general give a distorted view of her, 
and rarely a faithful record either of 
momentous or of common events. 


Examinations taken from the mouth 
are surely the most trust-worthy. Who- 
ever doubts it may be convinced by 
Ephraim Barnett. 

The Editor is confident he can give 
no offence to any person who may happen 
to bear the name of Lucy. The family 
of Sir Thomas became extinct nearly 
half a century ago, and the estates des- 
cended to the Rev. Mr. John Hammond, 
of Jesus College, in Oxford, a respectable 
Welsh curate, between whom and him 
there existed at his birth eighteen prior 
claimants. He took the name of Lucy. 

The reader will form to himself, 
from this Examination of Shakspeare, 

editor's preface. ix 

more favourable opinion of Sir Thomas 
than is left upon his mind by the Dra- 
matist in the character of Justice Shal- 
low. The knight, indeed, is here ex- 
hibited in all his pride of birth and 
station, in all his pride of theologian 
and poet ; he is led by the nose, while 
he believes that nobody can move him, 
and shows some other weaknesses, which 
the least attentive observer will discover ; 
but he is not without a httle kindness at 
the bottom of the heart — a heart too 
contracted to hold much, or to let what 
it holds ebulliate very freely. But, upon 
the whole, we neither can utterly hate 
nor utterly despise him. Ungainly as 
he is, 

Circum praecordia ludit. 

X editor's preface. 

The author of the Imaginary Con- 
versations seems, in his Boccacio and Pe- 
trarca, to have taken his idea of Sir 
Magnus from this manuscript. He, how- 
ever, has adapted that character to the 
times ; and in Sir Magnus the coward rises 
to the courageous, the unskilful in arms 
becomes the skilful, and war is to him 
a teacher of humanity. With much su- 
perstition, theology never molests him : 
scholarship and poetry are no affairs of 
his. He doubts of himself and others, 
and is as suspicious in his ignorance as 
Sir Thomas is confident. 

With these wide diversities, there are 
family features, such as are likely to dis- 
play themselves in different times and 


circumstances, and some so generically 
prevalent as never to lie quite dormant 
in the breed. In both of them there is 
parsimony, there is arrogance, there is 
contempt of inferiors, there is abject 
awe of power, there is irresohition, there 
is imbecility. But Sir Magnus has no 
knowledge, and no respect for it. Sir 
Thomas would almost go thirty miles, 
even to Oxford, to see a fine specimen 
of it, although, like most of those who 
call themselves the godly, he entertains 
the most undoubting belief that he is 
competent to correct the errors of the 
wisest and most practised theologian. 



About one hour before noontide, the youth 
William Shakspeare, accused of deer-stealing, 
and apprehended for that offence, was brought 
into the great hall at Charlecote, where, having 
made his obeisance, it was most graciously per- 
mitted him to stand. 

The worshipful Sir Thomas Lucy, Knight, 
seeing him right opposite, on the farther side 
of the long table, and fearing no disadvantage, 
did frown upon him with great dignity ; then, 
deigning ne'er a word to the culprit, turned he 
his face towards his chaplain. Sir Silas Gough, 
who stood beside him, and said unto him most 


courteously, and unlike unto one who in his 
own right commandeth, 

" Stand out of the way ! What are those 
two varlets bringing into the room ? " 

"■ The table, sir," replied Master Silas, 
*' upon the which the consumption of the veni- 
son was perpetrated." 

The youth, William Shakspeare, did there- 
upon pray and beseech his lordship most fer- 
vently, in this guise : 

" O, sir! do not let him turn the tables 
against me, who am only a simple stripling, 
and he an old cogger." 

But Master Silas did bite his nether lip, 
and did cry aloud, 

" Look upon those deadly spots!" 

And his worship did look thereupon most 
staidly, and did say in the ear of Master Silas, 
but in such wise that it reached even unto mine, 

" Good honest chandlery, methinks!" 

" God grant it may turn out so!" ejacu- 
lated Master Silas. 


The youth, hearing these words, said unto 

" I fear. Master Silas, gentry like you often 
pray God to grant what he would rather not ; 
and now and then what you would rather 

Sir Silas was wroth at this rudeness of 
speech about God in the face of a preacher, 
and said, reprovingly, 

" Out upon thy foul mouth, knave! upon 
which lie slaughter and venison." 

Whereupon did William Shakspeare sit 
mute awhile, and discomfited ; then, turning 
toward Sir Thomas, and looking and speaking 
as one submiss and contrite, he thus appealed 
unto him : 

** Worshipful sir ! were there any signs of 
venison on my mouth, Master Silas could not 
for his life cry out upon it, nor help kissing it 
as 'twere a wench's." 

Sir Thomas looked upon him with most 
lordly gravity and wisdom, and said unto him, 


in a voice that might have come from the 

^' Youth ! thou speakest irreverently;" and 
then unto Master Silas, — " Silas! to the busi- 
ness on hand. Taste the fat upon yon boors 
table, which the constable hath brought hither, 
good Master Silas ! And declare upon oath, 
being sworn in my presence, first, whether said 
fat do proceed of venison ; secondly, whether 
said venison be of buck or doe." 

Whereupon the reverend Sir Silas did go 
incontinently, and did bend forward his head, 
shoulders, and body, and did severally taste 
four white solid substances upon an oaken 
board ; said board being about two yards long, 
and one yard four inches wide ; found in, and 
brought thither from, the tenement or messuage 
of Andrew Haggit, who hath absconded. Of 
these four white solid substances, two were 
somewhat larger than a groat, and thicker; 
one about the size of King Henry the Eighth's 
shilling, when our late sovereign lord of blessed 


memory was towards the lustiest; and the 
other, that is to say the middlemost, did re- 
semble in some sort a mushroom, not over fresh, 
turned upward on its stalk. 

** And what sayest thou, Master Silas?" 
quoth the knight. 

In reply whereunto Sir Silas thus averred : 

" Venison ! o' ray conscience ! 
Buck ! or burn me alive ! 

The three splashes in the circumference are 
verily and indeed venison; buck, moreover, — 
and Charlecote buck, upon my oath ! " 

Then carefully tasting the protuberance in 
the centre, he spat it out, crying, 

*' Pho! pho! villain! villain!'' and shaking 
his fist at the culprit. 

Whereat the said culprit smiled and winked, 
and said off-hand, 

" Save thy spittle, Silas! It would supply 
a gaudy mess to the hungriest litter ; but it 
would turn them from whelps into wolvets. 


*Tis pity to throw the best of thee away. 
Nothing comes out of thy mouth that is not 
savoury and solid, hating thy wit, thy ser- 
mons, and thy promises." 

It was my duty to write down the very 
words, irreverent as they are, being so com- 
manded. More of the like, it is to be feared, 
would have ensued, but that Sir Thomas did 
check him, saying shrewdly, 

" Young man! I perceive that if I do not 
stop thee in thy courses, thy name, being in- 
volved in thy company's, may one day or other 
reach across the county j and folks may handle 
it and turn it about, as it deserveth, from 
Coleshill to Nuneaton, from Bromwicham to 
Brownsover. And who knoweth but that, 
years after thy death, the very house wherein 
thou wert born may be pointed at, and com- 
mented on, by knots of people, gentle and 
simple! What a shame for an honest man's 
son ! Thanks to me, who consider of measures 
to prevent it ! Posterity shall laud and glorify 


me for plucking thee clean out of her head, 
and for picking up timely a ticklish skittle, 
that might overthrow with it a power of others 
just as light. I will rid the hundred of thee, 
with God's blessing! — nay, the whole shire. 
We will have none such in our county: we 
justices are agreed upon it, and we will keep 
our word now and for evermore. Wo betide 
any that resembles thee in any part of him ! " 

Whereunto Sir Silas added, 

'' We will dog him, and worry him, and 
haunt him, and bedevil him ; and if ever he 
hear a comfortable word, it shall be in a lan- 
guage very different from his own." 

'* As different as thine is from a Christian's,'*^ 
said the youth. 

*' Boy! thou art slow of apprehension," 
said Sir Thomas, with much gravity ; and, 
taking up the cue, did rejoin : 

'' Master Silas would impress upon thy 
ductile and tender mind the danger of evil 
doing ; that we, in other words, that justice, is 


resolved to follow him up, even beyond his 
country, where he shall hear nothing better 
than the Italian or the Spanish, or the black 
language, or the language of Turk or Trouba- 
dour, or Tartar or Mongle. And, forsooth, for 
this gentle and indirect reproof, a gentleman 
in priest's orders is told by a stripling that he 
lacketh Christianity ! Who then shall give it?" 


'* Who, indeed? when the founder of the 
feast leaveth an invited guest so empty! Yea, 
sir, the guest was invited, and the board was 
spread. The fruits that lay upon it be there 
still, and fresh as ever ; and the bread of life 
in those capacious canisters is unconsumed and 

SIR SILAS {aside), 

*' The knave maketh me hungry with his 
mischievous similitudes." 


'* Thou hast aggravated thy offence, Wil 
Shakspeare ! Irreverent caitiff! is this a dis- 


course for my chaplain and clerk ? Can he or 
the worthy scribe Ephraim (his worship was 
pleased to call me worthy) write down such 
words as those, about litter and wolvets, for the 
perusal and meditation of the grand jury ? If 
the whole corporation of Stratford had not una- 
nimously given it against thee, still his tongue 
would catch thee, as the evet catcheth a 
gnat. Know, sirrah, the reverend Sir Silas, 
albeit ill appointed for riding, and not over-fond 
of it, goeth to every house wherein is a veni- 
son feast for thirty miles round. Not a buck's 
hoof on any stable-door but it awakeneth his 
recollections like a red letter.'* 

This wholesome reproof did bring the youth 
back again to his right senses ; and then said 
he, with contrition, and with a wisdom beyond 
his years, and little to be expected from one 
who had spoken just before so unavoidably 
and rashly, 

" Well do I know it, your worship! And 
verily do I believe, that a bone of one being 


shovelled among the soil upon his coffin would 
forthwith quicken'^ him. Sooth to say, there 
is ne'er a huckhound in the county but he 
treateth him as a godchild, patting him on the 
head, soothing his velvety ear between thumb 
and fore-finger, ejecting tick from tenement, 
calling him fine fellow, noble lad, and giving 
him his blessing, as one dearer to him than 
a king's death to a debtor, f or a bastard to 
a dad of eighty. This is the only kindness I 
ever heard of Master Silas towards his fellow- 
creatures. Never hold me unjust, Sir Knight, 
to Master Silas. Could I learn other good 
of him, I would freely say it; for we do good 
by speaking it, and none is easier. Even bad 
men are not bad men while they praise the 
just. Their first step backward is more trou- 
blesome and wrenching to them than the first 

* Quicken, bring to life. 

f Debtors were often let out of prison at the coro- 
nation of a new king, but creditors not paid by him. 


" In God*s name, where did he gather all 
this?" whispered his worship to the chaplain, 
hy whose side I was sitting. " Why, he talks 
like a man of forty-seven, or more ! '* 

" I doubt his sincerity, sir!" replied the 
chaplain. " His words are fairer now .... 

" Devil choke him for them ! '' interjected 
he with an undervoice. 

**.... and almost book- worthy ; but out 
of place. What the scurvy cur yelped against 
me, I forgive him as a Christian. Murrain 
upon such varlet vermin! It is but of late 
years that dignities have come to be reviled ; 
the other parts of the Gospel were broken 
long before; this was left us; and now this 
likewise is to be kicked out of doors, amidst 
the mutterings of such mooncalves as him 

** Too true, Silas!" said the knight, sighing 
deeply. " Things are not as they were in 
our glorious wars of York and Lancaster. The 
knaves were thinned then ; two or three crops 


a-year of that rank bent grass which it has 
become the fashion of late to call the people. 
There was some difference then between buff 
doublets and iron mail ; and the rogues felt it. 
Well-a-day ! we must bear what God willeth, 
and never repine, although it gives a man the 
heart-ache. We are bound in duty to keep 
these things for the closet, and to tell God of 
them only when we call upon his holy name, 
and have him quite by ourselves." 

Sir Silas looked discontented and impa- 
tient, and said snappishly, 

" Cast we off here, or we shall be at fault. 
Start him, sir! — pr'ythee, start him.'' 

Again his worship. Sir Thomas, did look 
gravely and grandly, and, taking a scrap of 
paper out of the Holy Book then lying before 
him, did read distinctly these words : 

" Providence hath sent Master Silas back 
hither this morning to confound thee in thy 

Again, with all the courage and composure 


of an innocent man, and indeed with more 
than what an innocent man ought to possess 
in the presence of a magistrate, tlie youngster 
said, pointing toward Master Silas, 

" The first moment he ventureth to lift up 
his visage from the table, hath Providence 
marked him miraculously. I have heard of 
black malice. How many of our words have 
more in them than we think of! Give a coun- 
tryman a plough of silver, and he will plough 
with it all the season, and never know its sub- 
stance. Tis thus with our daily speech. What 
riches lie hidden in the vulgar tongue of the 
poorest and most ignorant! What flowers of 
Paradise lie under our feet, with their beauties 
and parts undistinguished and undiscerned, 
from having been daily trodden on ! O, sir, 
look you ! — but let me cover my eyes ! Look 
at his lips! Gracious Heaven! they were not 
thus when he entered : they are blacker now 
than Harry Tewe's bull-bitch's!" 

Master Silas did lift up his eyes in asto- 


nishment and wrath; and his worship Sir 
Thomas did open his wider and wider, and 
cried hy fits and starts, 

" Gramercy ! true enough ! nay, afore God, 
too true by half! — I never saw the like! — 
Who would believe it! — I wish I were fairly 
rid of this examination! — my hands washed 
clean thereof! — Another time! — anon! We 
have our quarterly sessions ! We are many 
together — at present, I remand . . , ." 

And now, indeed, unless Sir Silas had 
taken his worship by the sleeve, he would 
mayhap have remanded the lad. But Sir 
Silas still holding the sleeve, and shaking it, 
said hurriedly, 

*' Let me entreat your worship to ponder. 
What black does the fellow talk of? My 
blood and bile rose up against the rogue ; but 
surely I did not turn black in the face, or in 
the mouth, as the fellow calls it?" 

Whether Master Silas had some suspicion 
and inkling of the cause, or not, he rubbed 


his right hand along his face and lips, and, 
looking upon it, cried aloud, 

" Ho ! ho ! is it off? There is some upon 
my finger's end, I find. Now I have it, — ay, 
there it is. That large splash upon the centre 
of the table is tallow, by my salvation ! The 
profligates sat up until the candle burned out, 
and the last of it ran through the socket upon 
the board. We knew it before. I did convey 
into my mouth both fat and smut ! " 

" Many of your cloth and kidney do that, 
good Master Silas, and make no wry faces 
about it,'* quoth the youngster, with indiscreet 
merriment, although short of laughter, as be- 
came him, who had already stepped too far, 
and reached the mire. 

To save paper and time, I shall now, for 
the most part, write only what they all said, 
not saying that they said it, and just copying 
out in my clearest hand what fell respectively 
from their mouths. 



" I did indeed spit it forth, and emunge 
my lips, as who should not?" 


" Would it were so!" 


" Would it were so! in thy teeth, hypo- 


" And, truly, I likewise do incline to hope 
and credit it, as thus paraphrased and ex- 


" Wait until this blessed day next year, 
sir, at the same hour. You shall see it forth 
again at its due season : it would be no mi- 
racle if it lasted. Spittle may cure sore 
eyes, but not blasted mouths and scald con- 



" Why! who taught thee all this?" 

Then turned he leisurely toward Sir Silas, 
and placing his hand outspreaden upon the 
arm of the chaplain, said unto him in a low, 
judicial, hollow voice, 

" Every word true and solemn! I have 
heard less wise saws from between black 

Sir Silas was indignant at this under-rating, 
as he appeared to think it, of the church and 
its ministry, and answered impatiently, with 
Christian freedom, 

" Your worship surely will not listen to 
this wild wizard in his brothel-pulpit!" 


" Do I live to hear Charlecote Hall called 
a brothel-pulpit? Alas, then, I have lived too 


'* We will try to amend that for thee." 


William seemed not to hear him, loudly 
as he spake and pointedly unto the youngster, 
who wiped his eyes, crying, 

" Commit me, sir ! in mercy commit me ! 
Master Ephraim ! O, Master Ephraim ! A 
guiltless man may feel all the pangs of the 
guilty! Is it you who are to make out the 
commitment? Dispatch! dispatch! I am 
a- weary of my life. If I dared to lie, I would 
plead guilty." 


*• Heyday! No wonder, Master Ephraim, 
thy entrails are moved and wamble. Dost 
weep, lad 1 Nay, nay ; thou bearest up bravely. 
Silas, I now find, although the example come 
before me from humble life, that what my mother 
said was true — 'twas upon my father's demise 
— ' In great grief there are few tears/ " 

Upon which did the youth, Willy Shaks- 
peare, joy himself by the memory, and repeat 
these short verses, not wide from the same 
purport — 


" There are, alas, some depths of woe 
Too vast for tears to overflow." 


'' Let those who are sadly vexed in spirit 
mind that notion, whoever indited it, and be 
men. I always was; but some little griefs 
have pinched me woundily." 

Master Silas grew impatient, for he had 
ridden hard that morning, and had no cushion 
upon his seat, as Sir Thomas had. I have 
seen in my time, that he who is seated on 
beech-wood hath very different thoughts and 
moralities from him who is seated on goose- 
feathers under doe-skin. But that is neither 
here nor there, albeit, an' I die, as I must, 
my heirs, Judith and her boy Elijah, may 
note it. 

Master Silas, as above, looked sourishly, 
and cried aloud, 

*' The witnesses! the witnesses ! testimony ! 
testimony! We shall now see whose black 


goes deepest. There is a fork to be had that 
can hold the slipperiest eel, and a finger that 
can strip the slimiest. I cry your worship to 
the witnesses.'* 


" Ay, indeed, we are losing the day : it 
wastes towards noon, and nothing done. Call 
the witnesses. How are they called by name ? 
Give me the paper." 

The paper being forthwith delivered into 
his worship's hand by the learned clerk, his 
worship did read aloud the name of Euseby 
Treen. Whereupon did Euseby Treen come 
forth through the great hall-door, which was 
ajar, and answer most audibly, 

" Your worship !" 

Straightway did Sir Thomas read aloud, in 
like form and manner, the name of Joseph 
Carnaby ; and in like manner as aforesaid did 
Joseph Carnaby make answer and say, 

" Your worship !" 


Lastly did Sir Thomas turn the light of his 
countenance on William Shakspeare, saying, 

'* Thou seest these good men deponents 
against thee, William Shakspeare." 

And then did Sir Thomas pause. And 
pending this pause did William Shakspeare look 
steadfastly in the faces of both ; and, stroking 
down his own with the hollow of his hand 
from the jaw-bone to the chin-point, said unto 
his honour, 

" Faith! it would give me much pleasure, 
and the neighbourhood much vantage, to see 
these two fellows good men. Joseph Carnaby 
and Euseby Treen ! Why ! your worship ! 
they know every hare's form in Luddington- 
field better than their own beds, and as well 
pretty nigh as any wench's in the parish." 

Then turned he, with jocular scoff, unto 
Joseph Carnaby, thus accosting him, whom his 
shirt, being made stiffer than usual for the 
occasion, rubbed and frayed. 

" Ay, Joseph ! smoothen and soothe thy 


collar- piece again and again! Hark-ye! I 
know what smock that was knavishly cut 

Master Silas rose up in high choler, and 
said unto Sir Thomas, 

** Sir! do not listen to that lewd re viler: 
I wager ten groats I prove him to be wrong in 
his scent. Joseph Carnaby is righteous and 


*' By daylight and before the parson. Bears 
and boars are tame creatures, and volubly dis- 
creet, in the sunshine and after dinner." 


*' I do know his down -goings and up- 


" The man and his wife are one, saith holy 


** A sober -paced and rigid man, if such 
there be. Few keep Lent like unto him." 



" I warrant him, both lent and stolen." 


*' Peace and silence ! Now, Joseph Car- 
naby, do thou depose on particulars." 


" May it please your worship! I was re- 
turning from Hampton upon AUhallowmass 
eve, between the hours of ten and eleven at 
night, in company with Master Euseby Treen ; 
and when we came to the bottom of Mickle 
Meadow, we heard several men in discourse. 
I plucked Euseby Treen by the doublet, and 
whispered in his ear, ' Euseby ! Euseby ! let 
us slink along in the shadow of the elms and 
willows.' " 


'^ Willows and elm-trees were the words." 


" See, your worship ! what discordances ! 
They cannot agree in their own story." 



" The same thing, the same thing, in the 


" By less differences than this estates have 
been lost, hearts broken, and England, our 
country, filled with homeless, helpless, desti- 
tute orphans. I protest against it !" 


*^ Protest, indeed ! He talks as if he were 
a member of the House of Lords. They alone 
can protest." 


<* Your attorney may object, not protest, 
before the lord judge. 

" Proceed you, Joseph Camaby." 


*' In the shadow of the willows and elm- 
trees, then 


*' No hints, no conspiracies! Keep to your 
own story, man, and do not borrow his." 



" I over-rule the objection. Nothing can 
be more futile and frivolous." 


" So learned a magistrate as your worship 
will surely do me justice by hearing me atten- 
tively. I am young : nevertheless, having more 
than one year written in the office of an attor- 
ney, and having heard and listened to many 
discourses and questions on law, I cannot but 
remember the heavy fine inflicted on a gentle- 
man of this county who committed a poor man 
to prison for being in possession of a hare, it 
being proved that the hare was in his posses- 
sion, and not he in the hare's." 


" Synonymous term ! synonymous term !" 


" In what term sayest thou was it? I do 
not remember the case." 



" Mere quibble ! mere equivocation ! Jesu- 
itical! Jesuitical !" 


'* It would be Jesuitical, Sir Silas, if it 
dragged the law by its perversions to the side 
of oppression and cruelty. The order of Jesuits, 
I fear, is as numerous as its tenets are lax and 
comprehensive. I am sorry to see their frocks 
flounced with English serge." 


" I don't understand thee, viper!" 


" Cease thou. Will Shakspeare ! Know thy 
place. And do thou, Joseph Carnaby, take up 
again the thread of thy testimony." 


*' We were still at some distance from the 


party, when on a sudden Euseby hung an 

. . . .* 


" As well write drew hack. Master Ephraim 
and Master Silas ! Be circumspecter in speech, 
Master Joseph Camaby! I did not look for 
such rude phrases from that starch-warehouse 
under thy chin. Continue, man!" 


*' ' Euseby,' said I in his ear, ' what ails 
thee, Euseby?' * I was no farther,' quoth he. 
' What a number of names and voices !' " 


" Dreadful gang ! a number of names and 
voices ! Had it been any other day in the year 
but AUhallowmas eve ! To steal a buck upon 

* The word here omitted is quite unintelligible. It 
appears to have some reference to the language of the 
Highlanders. That it was rough and outlandish, is appa- 
rent from the reprimand of Sir Thomas. 


such a day! Well! God may pardon even 
that. Go on, go on. But the laws of our 
country must have their satisfaction and atone- 
ment. Were it upon any other day in the 
calendar less holy, the buck were nothing, or 
next to nothing, saving the law and our con- 
science and our good report. Yet we, her 
majesty's justices, must stand in the gap, body 
and soul, against evil-doers. Now do thou, in 
furtherance of this business, give thine aid unto 
us, Joseph Carnaby ! remembering that mine 
eye from this judgment-seat, and her majesty's 
bright and glorious one overlooking the whole 
realm, and the broader of God above, are upon 

Carnaby did quail a matter at these words 
about the judgment-seat and the broad eye, 
aptly and gravely delivered by him moreover 
who hath to administer truth and righteousness 
in our ancient and venerable laws, and espe- 
cially at the present juncture in those against 
park-breaking and deer-stealing. But finally, 


nought discomfited, and putting his hand va- 
liantly atwixt hip and midriff, so that his elbow 
well-nigh touched the taller pen in the ink-pot, 
he went on. 


** ' /w the shadow of the willows and elm- 
trees,' said he, ' and get nearer' We were 
still at some distance, maybe a score of fur- 
longs, from the party " 


'* Thou hast said it already — all save the 

score of furlongs. 

" Hast room for them, Master Silas?" 

" Yea," quoth Master Silas, *' and would 

make room for fifty, to let the fellow swing at 

his ease." 


" Hast room, Master Ephraim T 
'' Tis done, most worshipful !" said I. The 
learned knight did not recollect that I could 
put fifty furlongs in a needle's eye, give me 
paper thin enough. 


But far be it from me to vaunt of my 
penmanship, although there be those who do 
even in my own township and parish ; yet they 
never have unperched me from my calling, 
and have had hard work to take an idle wench 
or two from under me on Saturday nights. 

I do memorize thus much, not out of any 
malice or any soreness about me, but that those 
of my kindred into whose hands it please God 
these papers do fall hereafter, may bear up 
stoutly in such straits ; and if they be good at 
the cudgel, that they, looking first at their 
man, do give it him heartily and unsparingly, 
keeping within law. 

Sir Thomas, having overlooked what we 
had written, and meditated awhile thereupon, 
said unto Joseph, 

*' It appeareth by thy testimony that there 
was a huge and desperate gang of them a-foot. 
Revengeful dogs ! it is difiicult to deal with 
them. The laws forbid precipitancy and vio- 
lence. A dozen or two may return and harm 


me ; not me, indeed, but my tenants and ser- 
vants. I would fain act with prudence, and 
like unto him who looketh abroad. He must 
tie his shoe tightly who passeth through mire ; 
he must step softly who steppeth over stones; 
he must walk in the fear of the Lord (which, 
without a brag, I do at this present feel upon 
me,) who hopeth to reach the end of the 
straightest road in safety." 


" Tut ! tut ! your worship ! Her majesty's 
deputy hath matchlocks and halters at a knight's 
disposal, or the world were topsyturvy indeed." 


" My mental ejaculations, and an influx of 
grace thereupon, have shaken and washed from 
my brain all thy last words, good Joseph I Thy 
companion here, Euseby Treen, said unto thee 
. . . ay . . ." 


" Said unto me, * What a number of names 
and voices ! And there be but three living men 


in all ! And look again ! Christ deliver us ! all 
the shadows save one go leftward : that one 
lieth right upon the river. It seemeth a big 
squat monster, shaking a little, 3,3 one ready to 
spring upon its prey !" 


*' A dead man in his last agonies, no doubt ! 
Your deer-stealer doth boggle at nothing. He 
hath alway the knife in doublet and the devil 
at elbow. 

" I wot not of any keeper killed or missing. 
To lose one's deer and keeper too were over- 

" Do, in God's merciful name, hand unto 
me a glass of sack, Master Silas ! I wax faintish 
at the big squat man. He hath harmed not 
only me but mine. Furthermore, the examina- 
tion is grown so long." 

Then was the wine delivered by Sir Silas 
into the hand of his worship, who drank it off 
in a beaker of about half a pint, but little to 
his satisfaction : for he said shortly afterwards. 


" Hast thou poured no water into the sack, 
good Master Silas? It seemeth weaker and 
washier than ordinary, and affordeth small 
comfort unto the breast and stomach." 

" Not I, truly, sir," replied Master Silas ; 
" and the bottle is a fresh and sound one. 
The cork reported on drawing, as the best 
diver doth on sousing from Warwick bridge 
into Avon. A rare cork ! as bright as the glass 
bottle, and as smooth as the lips of any cow." 


*' My mouth is out of taste this morning; 
or the same wine, mayhap, hath a different 
force and flavour in the dining-room and among 
friends. But to business — what more?" 

" Joseph Carnaby, what may it be?" said I. 

" I know," quoth he, " but dare not breathe 


" I thought I had taken a glass of wine 
verily. Attention to my duty as a magistrate 


is paramount. I mind nothing else when that 
lies before me. 

• " Carnaby ! I credit thy honesty, but doubt 
thy manhood. Why not breathe it, with a 
vengeance V 


*' It was Euseby who dared not." 


" Stand still : say nothing yet : mind my 
orders : fair and softly : compose thyself." 

They all stood silent for some time, and 
looked very composed, awaiting the commands 
of the knight. His mind was clearly in such 
a state of devotion, that perad venture he might 
not have descended for a while longer to his 
mundane duties, had not Master Silas told him 
that, under the shadow of his wing, their cou- 
rage had returned and they were quite com- 
posed again. 

** You may proceed," said the knight. 


" Master Treen did take off his cap and 


wipe his forehead. I, for the sake of com- 
forting him in this his heaviness, placed my 
hand upon his crown ; and truly I might have 
taken it for a tuft of bents, the hair on end, 
the skin immovable as God's earth." 

Sir Thomas, hearing these words, lifted up 
his hands above his own head, and, in the 
loudest voice he had yet uttered, did he cry, • 

** Wonderful are thy ways in Israel, O 
Lord !" 

So saying, the pious knight did strike his 
knee with the palm of his right hand; and 
then gave he a sign, bowing his head and 
closing his eyes, by which Master Carnaby did 
think he signified his pleasure that he should 
go on deposing. And he went on thus : 


'* At this moment one of the accomplices 
cried, ' Willy ! Willy ! prythee stop ! enough in 
all conscience! First thou divertedst us from 
our undertaking with thy strange vagaries ; thy 


Italian girls' nursery sighs; thy Pucks and 
pinchings, and thy Windsor whimsies. No 
kitten upon a bed of marum ever played such 
antics. It was summer and winter, night and 
day with us within the hour; and with such 
religion did we think and feel it, we would 
have broken the man's jaw that gainsayed it. 
We have slept with thee under the oaks in the 
ancient forest of Arden, and we have wakened 
from our sleep in the tempest far at sea.* 
Now art thou for frightening us again out of 
all the senses thou hadst given us, with witches 
and women more murderous than they.' 

'* Then followed a deeper voice : * Stouter 
men and more resolute are few ; but thou, my 
lad, hast words too weighty for flesh and bones 
to bear up against. And who knows but these 
creatures may pop amongst us at last, as the 
wolf did, sure enough, upon him, the noisy 

♦ By this deposition it would appear that Shakspeare 
had formed the idea, if not the outline, of several plays 
already, much as he altered them, no doubt, in after-life. 


rogue, who so long had been crying wolf! and 
wolfr " 


" Well spoken, for two thieves ; albeit I 
miss the meaning of the most part. Did they 
prevail with the scapegrace and stop him ? " 


" The last who had spoken did slap him 
on the shoulder, saying, * Jump into the punt, 
lad, and across.' Thereupon did Will Shak- 
speare jump into said punt, and begin to sing 
a song about a mermaid." 


" Sir ! is this credible ? I will be sworn I 
never saw one ; and verily do believe that 
scarcely one in a hundred years doth venture 
so far up the Avon.'* 


** There is something in this. Thou mayest 
have sung about one, nevertheless. Young 
poets take great liberties with all female kind ; 
not that mermaids are such yQvy unlawful 


game for them, and there be songs even about 
worse and staler fish. Mind ye that! Thou 
hast written songs, and hast sung them, and 
lewd enough they be, God wot ! " 


*' Pardon me, your worship! they were not 
mine then. Perad venture the song about the 
mermaid may have been that ancient one which 
every boy in most parishes has been singing 
for many years, and, perhaps, his father before 
him ; and somebody was singing it then, may- 
hap, to keep up his courage in the night." 


" I never heard it." 


" Nobody would dare to sing in the pre- 
sence of your worship, unless commanded j not 
even the mermaid herself." 


*' Canst thou sing it?" 


** Verily, I can sing nothing." 



*' Canst thou repeat it from memory?" 


" It is so long since I have thought about 
it, that I may fail in the attempt." 


** Try, however." 


" The mermaid sat upon the rocks 
All day long, 
Admiring her beauty and combing her locks, 
And singing a mermaid song." 


*' What was it? what was it? I thought 
as much. There thou standest, like a wood- 
pecker, chattering and chattering, breaking 
the bark with thy beak, and leaving the grub 
where it was. This is enough to put a saint 
out of patience." 


" The wishes of your worship possess a 
mysterious influence : I now remember all. 


" And hear the mermaid's song you may, 
As sure as sure can be, 
If you will but follow the sun all day, 
And souse with him into the sea." 


" It must be an idle fellow who would take 
that trouble : besides, unless he nicked the 
time he might miss the monster. There be 
many who are slow to believe that the mermaid 


" Ah, sir! not only the mermaid singeth, 
but the merman sweareth, as another old song 
will convince you. 


" I would fain be convinced of God's won- 
ders in the great deeps, and would lean upon 
the weakest reed like unto thee to manifest his 
glory. Thou mayest convince me." 

" A wonderful story, my lasses and lads, 

Peradventure you've heard from your grannaras or dads, 


Of a merman that came every night to woo 
The spinster of spinsters, our Catherine Crewe, 


But Catherine Crewe 

Is now seventy-two, 

And avers she hath half forgotten 

The truth of the tale, when you ask her about it, 

And says, as if fain to deny it or flout it, 

Poo ! the merman is dead and rotten. 


The merman came up, as the mermen are wont. 
To the top of the water, and then swam upon't ; 
And Catherine saw him with both her two eyes, 
A lusty young merman full six feet in size. 


And Catherine was frighten'd. 

Her scalp-skin it tighten'd. 
And her head it swam strangely, although on dry land ; 

And the merman made bold 

Eftsoons to lay hold 
(TAis Catherine well recollects) of her hand. 

But how could a merman, if ever so good, 
Or if ever so clever, be well understood 
By a simple young creature of our flesh and blood ? 


Some tell us the merman 
Can only speak German, 
In a voice between grunting and snoring ; 
But Catherine says he had learnt in the wars 
The language, persuasions, and oaths of our tars, 
And that even his voice was not foreign. 

Yet when she was asked how he managed to hide 
The green fishy tail, coming out of the tide 

For night after night above twenty, 
* You troublesome creatures !' old Catherine replied, 

* In his pocket : won't that now content ye ? ' " 


" I have my doubts yet. I should have 
said unto her seriously, ' Kate ! Kate ! I am not 
convinced.' There may be witchcraft or sorti- 
lege in it. I would have made it a star-cham- 
ber matter." 


'^ It was one, sir ! '* 


" And now I am reminded by this silly 


childish song, which, after all, is not the true 
mermaid's, thou didst tell me, Silas, that the 
papers found in the lad's pocket were intended 
for poetry." 


*' I wish he had missed his aim, sir, in 
your park, as he hath missed it in his poetry. 
The papers are not worth reading ; they do not 
go against him in the point at issue." 


" We must see that; they being taken 
upon his person when apprehended." 


'* Let Ephraim read them then : it be- 
hoveth not me, a Master of Arts, to con a 
whelp's whining." 


" Do thou read them aloud unto us, good 
Master Ephraim." 

Whereupon I took the papers which young 
Willy had not bestowed much pains on ; and 


they posed and puzzled me grievously, for they 
were blotted and scrawled in many places, as 
if somebody had put him out. These likewise 
I thought fit, after long consideration, to write 
better, and preserve, great as the loss of time 
is when men of business take in hand such 
unseemly matters. However, they are decenter 
than most, and not without their moral: for 
example: — 


Who, O thou sapient saintly bird ! 
Thy shouted warnings ever heard 

Unbleached by fear ? 
The blue-faced blubbering imp, who steals 
Yon turnips, thinks thee at his heels, 

Afar or near. 

The brawnier churl, who brags at times 
To front and top the rankest crimes — 

To paunch a deer, 
Quarter a priest, or squeeze a wench. 
Scuds from thee, clammy as a tench. 

He knows not where. 

For this the righteous Lord of all 
Consigns to thee the castle-wall. 


When, many a year, 
Closed in the chancel-vault, are eyes 
Rainy or sunny at the sighs 

Of knight or peer." 

Sir Thomas, when I had ended, said 
unto me, 

** No harm herein ; but are they over?" 

I replied, *' Yea, sir!" 

*' I miss the posy," quoth he; '* there is 
usually a lump of sugar, or a smack thereof, 
at the bottom of the glass. They who are 
inexperienced in poetry do write it as boys 
do their copies in the copy-book, without a 
flourish at the finis. It is only the master who 
can do this befittingly." 

I bowed unto his worship reverentially, 
thinking of a surety he meant me, and returned 
my best thanks in set language. But his 
worship rebuffed them, and told me graciously 
that he had an eye on another of very different 
quality ; that the plain sense of his discourse 
might do for me, the subtiler was certainly for 


himself. He added, that in his younger days 
he had heard from a person of great parts, 
and had since profited by it, that ordinary 
poets are like adders — the tail blunt and the 
body rough, and the whole reptile cold-blooded 
and sluggish ; whereas we, he subjoined, leap 
and caracole and curvet, and are as warm as 
velvet, and as sleek as satin, and as perfumed 
as a Naples fan, in every part of us ; and the 
end of our poems is as pointed as a perch's 
back-fin, and it requires as much nicety to 
pick it up as a needle* at nine groats the 

Then turning towards the culprit, he said 
mildly unto him, 

*' Now why canst thou not apply thyself 

* The greater part of the value of the present work 
arises from the certain information it affords us on the 
price of small needles in the reign of Elizabeth : fine 
needles in her days were made only at Liege, and some 
few cities in the Netherlands, and may be reckoned among 
those things which were much dearer than they are now. 


unto study ? Why canst thou not ask advice 
of thy superiors in rank and wisdom? In a 
few years, under good discipline, thou mightest 
rise from the owlet unto the peacock. I know 
not what pleasant things might not come into 
the youthful head thereupon. 

" He was the bird of Venus,* goddess of 
beauty. He flew down (I speak as a poet, 
and not in my quality of knight and Christian) 
with half the stars of heaven upon his tail ; 
and his long blue neck doth verily appear a 
dainty slice out of the solid sky." 

Sir Silas smote me with his elbow, and 
said in my ear, 

" He wanteth not this stuffing : he beats 
a pheasant out of the kitchen, to my mind, 
take him only at the pheasant's size, and don't 
(upon your life) overdo him." 

*' Never be cast down in spirit, nor take it 
too grievously to heart, if the colour be a sus- 
picion of the pinkish — no sign of rawness in 

* Mr. Took had not yet published his Pantheon. 


that : none whatever. It is as becoming to him 
as to the salmon ; it is as natural to your pea- 
chick in his best cookery, as it is to the finest 
October morning — moist underfoot, when par- 
tridge's and puss's and renard's scent lies 

Willy Shakspeare in the meantime lifted up 
his hands above his ears half a cubit, and, 
taking breath again, said audibly, although he 
willed it to be said unto himself alone, 

" O that knights could deign to be our 
teachers ! Methinks I should briefly spring 
up into heaven, through the very chink out of 
which the peacock took his neck." 

Master Silas, who, like myself and the 
worshipful knight, did overhear him, said 

" To spring up into heaven, my lad, it 
would be as well to have at least one foot 
upon the ground to make the spring withal. 
I doubt whether we shall leave thee this 


*' Nay, nay ! thou art hard upon him, 
Silas!" said the knight. 

I was turning over the other papers taken 
from the pocket of the culprit on his apprehen- 
sion, and had fixed my eyes on one, when Sir 
Thomas caught them thus occupied, and ex- 

" Mercy upon us ! have we more ?" 

" Your patience, worshipful sir!" said I; 
*' must I forward?" 

" Yea, yea," quoth he, resignedly, '^ we 
must go through : we are pilgrims in this life." 

Then did I read, in a clear voice, the con- 
tents of paper the second, being as followeth : 


" I loved him not; and yet, now he is gone, 

I feel I am alone. 
I check'd him while he spoke ; yet, could he speak, 

Alas ! I would not check. 
For reasons not to love him once I sought, 

And wearied all my thought 
To vex myself and him : I now would give 

My love could he but hve 



Who lately lived for me, and, when he found 

'Twas vain, in holy ground 
He hid his face amid the shades of death ! 

I waste for him my breath 
Who wasted his for me ! but mine returns, 

And this lorn bosom burns 
With stifling heat, heaving it up in sleep. 

And waking me to weep 
Tears that had melted his soft heart : for years 

Wept he as bitter tears ! 
Merciful God ! such was his latest prayer, 

These may she never share I 
Quieter is his breath, his breast more cold, 

Than daisies in the mould, 
Where children spell, athwart the churchyard gate. 

His name and life's brief date. 
Pray for him, gentle souls, whoe'er you be, 

And, oh ! pray too for me ! " 

Sir Thomas had fallen into a most comfort- 
able and refreshing slumber ere this lecture 
was concluded : but the pause broke it, as 
there be many who experience after the even- 
ing service in our parish-church. Howbeit, he 
had presently all his wits about him, and re- 
membered well that he had been carefully 


counting the syllables, about the time when 
I had pierced as far as into the middle. 

" Young man," said he to Willy, " thou 
givest short measure in every other sack of the 
load. Thy uppermost stake is of right length ; 
the undermost falleth off, methinks. 

" Master Ephraim, canst thou count sylla- 
bles 1 I mean no offence. I may have counted 
wrongfully myself, not being born nor educated 
for an accountant." 

At such order I did count; and truly the 
suspicion was as just as if he had neither been 
a knight nor a sleeper. 

'' Sad stuff! sad stuff, indeed !" said Master 
Silas, " and smelling of popery and wax-can- 

"Ay?" said Sir Thomas, *' I must sift 

" If praying for the dead is not popery," 
said Master Silas, " I know not what the devil 
is. Let them pray for us; they may know 
whether it will do us any good : we need not 


pray for them ; we cannot tell whether it will 
do them any. I call this sound divinity." 

*' Are our churchmen all agreed there- 
upon ? " asked Sir Thomas. 

'^ The wisest are," replied Master Silas. 
*' There are some lank rascals who will never 
agree upon any thing but upon doubting. I 
would not give ninepence for the best gown 
upon the most thrifty of 'em ; and their fingers 
are as stiff and hard with their pedlary knavish 
writing, as any bishop's are with chalk-stones 
won honestly from the gout." 

Sir Thomas took the paper up from the 
table on which I had laid it, and said, after a 

** The man may only have swooned. I 
scorn to play the critic, or to ask any one the 
meaning of a word ; but, sirrah!" 

Here he turned in his chair from the side of 
Master Silas, and said unto Willy, 

" William Shakspeare ! out of this thraldom 
in regard to popery, I hope, by God's blessing, 


to deliver thee. If ever thou repeatest the said 
verses, knowing the man to be to all intents 
and purposes a dead man, pry thee read the 
censurable line as thus corrected, 

' Pray for our Virgin Queen, gentles ! whoe'er you be,' 

although it is not quite the thing that another 
should impinge so closely on her skirts. 

'' By this improvement, of me suggested, 
thou mayest make some amends — a syllable or 
two — for the many that are weighed in the 
balance and are found wanting." 

Then turning unto me, as being conversant 
by my profession in such matters, and the same 
being not very worthy of learned and staid 
clerks the like of Master Silas, he said, 

** Of all the youths that did ever write in 
verse, this one verily is he who hath the fewest 
flowers and devices. But it would be loss of 
time to form a border, in the fashion of a kingly 
crown, or a dragon, or a Turk on horseback, 
out of buttercups and dandelions. 


** Master Ephraim ! look at these badgers ! 
with a long leg on one quarter and a short leg 
on the other. The wench herself might well 
and truly have said all that matter without the 
poet, bating the rhymes and metre. Among 
the girls in the country there are many such 
shillt/'shallys, who give themselves sore eyes 
and sharp eye-water : I would cure them rod 
in hand." 

Whereupon did William Shakspeare say, 
with great humility, 

*' So would I, may it please your worship, 
an they would let me.*' 

" Incorrigible sluts ! Out upon 'em ! and 
thou art no better than they are," quoth the 

Master Silas cried aloud, ** No better, mar- 
ry ! they at the worst are but carted and whipt 
for the edification of the market-folks.'*' Not a 
squire or parson in the county round but comes 
in his best to see a man hanged." 

* This was really the case within our memory. 


" The edification then is higher by a deal," 
said William, very composedly. 

" Troth ! is it," replied Master Silas. ''The 
most poisonous reptile has the richest jewel in 
his head : thou shalt share the richest grift 
bestowed upon royalty, and shalt cure the king's 

"It is more tractable, then, than the 
church's," quoth William ; and, turning his 
face towards the chair, he made an obeisance to 
Sir Thomas, saying, 

'* Sir ! the more submissive my behaviour 
is, the more vehement and boisterous is Master 
Silas. My gentlest words serve only to carry 
him towards the contrary quarter, as the south 
wind bloweth a ship northward." 

" Youth ! " said Sir Thomas, smiling most 

* It was formerly thought, and perhaps is thought still, 
that the hand of a man recently hanged being rubbed on 
the tumour of the king's evil was able to cure it. The 
crown and the gallows divided the glory of the sovereign 


benignly, " I find, and well indeed might I 
have surmised, thy utter ignorance of winds, 
equinoxes, and tides. Consider now a little! 
With what propriety can a wind be called the 
south wind if it bloweth a vessel to the north ? 
Would it be a south wind that blew it from this 
hall into Warwick market-place?" 

*' It would be a strong one,*' said Master 
Silas unto me, pointing his remark, as witty 
men are wont, with the elbow-pan. 

But Sir Thomas, who waited for an answer, 
and received none, continued, 

" Would a man be called a good man who 
tended and pushed on towards evil ? " 


" I stand corrected. I could sail to Cathay 
or Tartary''^ with half the nautical knowledge 
I have acquired in this glorious hall. 

" The devil impelling a mortal to wrong 
courses, is thereby known to be the devil. He, 

* And yet he never did sail any farther than into 


on the contrary, who exciteth to good is no 
devil, but an angel of light, or under the guid- 
ance of one. The devil driveth unto his own 
home ; so doth the south wind, so doth the 
north wind. 

" Alas! alas! we possess not the mastery 
over our own weak minds, when a higher spirit 
standeth nigh, and draweth us within his in- 


** Those thy words are well enough — very 
well, very good, wise, discreet, judicious beyond 
thy years. But then that sailing comes in an 
awkward, ugly way across me — that Cathay, 
that Tartarus! 

" Have a care ! Do thou nothing rashly. 
Mind! an thou stealest my punt for the pur- 
pose, I send the constable after thee or e'er thou 
art halfway over." 


" He would make a stock-fish of me an he 
caught me. It is hard sailing out of his straits, 


although they be carefully laid down in most 
parishes, and many have taken them from 
actual survey." 


*' Sir, we have bestowed on him already 
well-nigh a good hour of our time." 

Sir Thomas, who was always fond of giving 
admonition and reproof to the ignorant and 
erring, and who had found the seeds (little 
mustard-seeds, 'tis true, and never likely to 
arise into the great mustard-tree of the Gospel) 
in the poor lad Willy, did let his heart soften a 
whit tenderer and kindlier than Master Silas 
did, and said unto Master Silas, 

'* A good hour of our time ! Yea, Silas ! 
and thou wouldst give him eternity ! " 

" What, sir! would you let him go?" said 
Master Silas. *' Presently we shall have nei- 
ther deer nor dog, neither hare nor coney, 
neither swan nor heron ; every carp from pool, 
every bream from brook, will be groped for. 
The marble monuments in the church will no 


longer protect the leaden coffins ; and if there 
be any ring of gold on the finger of knight or 
dame, it will be torn away with as little ruth 
and ceremony as the ring from a butchered 
sow's snout/' 

"Awful words! Master Silas," quoth the 
knight, musing ; " but thou mistakest my in- 
tentions. I let him not go : howbeit, at worst 
I would only mark him in the ear, and turn 
him up again after this warning, peradventure 
with a few stripes to boot athwart the shoulders, 
in order to make them shrug a little, and shake 
ofi" the burden of idleness." 

Now I, having seen, I dare not say the inno- 
cence, but the innocent and simple manner of 
Willy, and pitying his tender years, and hav- 
ing an inkling that he was a lad, poor Willy ! 
whom God had endowed with some parts, and 
into whose breast he had instilled that milk of 
loving-kindness by which alone we can be like 
unto those little children of whom is the house- 
hold and kingdom of our Lord, I was moved. 


yea even unto tears. And now, to bring gen- 
tler thoughts into the hearts of Master Silas and 
Sir Thomas, who, in his wisdom, deemed it a 
light punishment to slit an ear or two, or inflict 
a wiry scourging, I did remind his worship 
that another paper was yet unread, at least to 
them, although I had been perusing it. 

This was much pleasanter than the two 
former, and overflowing with the praises of the 
worthy knight and his gracious lady ; and hav- 
ing an echo to it in another voice, I did hope 
thereby to disarm their just wrath and indig- 
nation. It was thus couched : — 


" Jesu ! what lofty elms are here ! 
Let me look through them at the clear 
Deep sky above, and bless my star 
That such a worthy knight's they are ! 


" Innocent creatures ! how the deer 
Trot merrily, and romp and rear I 


" The glorious knight who walks beside 
His most majestic lady bride, 



" Under these branches spreading wide, 


" Carries about so many cares 
Touching his ancestors and heirs. 
That came from Athens and from Rome — 


" As many of them as are come — 


" Nought else the smallest lodge can find 
In the vast manors of his mind ; 
Envying not Solomon his wit — 


" No, nor his women not a bit; 
Being well-built and well-behaved 
As Solomon, I trow, or David. 


" And taking by his jewell'd hand 
The jewel of that lady bland. 
He sees the tossing antlers pass 
And throw quaint shadows o'er the grass ; 
While she alike the hour beguiles, 
And looks at him and them, and smiles. 



" With conscience proof 'gainst Satan's shock, 
Albeit finer than her smock,* 
Marry ! her smiles are not of vanity, 
But resting on sound Christianity. 
Faith you would swear had nail'df her ears on 
The book and cushion of the parson." 

'* Methinks the rhyme at the latter end 
might be bettered," said Sir Thomas. '' The 
remainder is indited not unaptly. But, young 
man ! never having obtained the permission of 
my honourable dame to praise her in guise of 
poetry, I cannot see all the merit I would fain 
discern in the verses. She ought first to have 
been sounded; and it being certified that she 
disapproved not her glorification, then might it 
be trumpeted forth into the world below." 

* Smock, formerly a part of the female dress, corre- 
sponding with shroudy or what we now call (or lately called) 
ahirt of the man's. Fox, speaking of Latimer's deatli, says, 
" Being slipped into his shroud.*' 

t Faith nailing the ears is a strong and sacred meta- 
phor. The rhyme is imperfect : Shakspeare was not always 
attentive to these minor beauties. 


"Most worshipful knight!" replied the 
youngster ; " I never could take it in hand to 
sound a dame of quality : they are all of them 
too deep and too practised for me, and have 
better and abler men about *em. And surely I 
did imagine to myself, that if it were asked of 
any honourable man (omitting to speak of la- 
dies) whether he would give permission to be 
openly praised, he would reject the application 
as a gross offence. It appeareth to me that 
even to praise one's-self, although it be shame- 
ful, is less shameful than to throw a burning 
coal into the incense-box that another doth hold 
to waft before us, and then to snift and simper 
over it, with maidenly wishful coyness, as if 
forsooth one had no hand in setting it asmoke." 

Then did Sir Thomas, in his zeal to instruct 
the ignorant, and so make the lowly hold up 
their heads, say unto him, 

" Nay, but all the great do thus. Thou 
must not praise them without leave and license. 
Praise unpermitted is plebeian praise. It is 


presumption to suppose that thou knowest 
enough of the noble and the great to discover 
their high qualities. They alone could manifest 
them unto thee. It requireth much discern- 
ment and much time to enucleate and bring 
into light their abstruse wisdom and gravely 
featured virtues. Those of ordinary men lie 
before thee in thy daily walks: thou mayest 
know them by converse at their tables, as thou 
knowest the little tame squirrel that chippeth 
his nuts in the open sunshine of a bowling- 
green. But beware how thou enterest the awful 
arbours of the great, who conceal their mag- 
nanimity in the depths of their hearts, as lions 

He then paused; and observing the youth 
in deep and earnest meditation over the fruits 
of his experience, as one who tasted and who 
would fain digest them, he gave him encourage- 
ment, and relieved the weight of his musings 
by kind interrogation : 

'* So, then, these verses are thine own?" 


The youth answered, 

" Sir, I must confess my fault." 


'* And who was the shepherd written here 
Second Shepherd, that had the ill manners to 
interrupt thee? Methinks, in helping thee to 
mount the saddle, he pretty nigh tossed thee 
over,* with his jerks and quirks." 

Without waiting for any answer, his worship 
continued his interrogations : 

* Shakspeare seems to have profited afterwards by this 
metaphor, even more perhaps than by all the direct pieces 
of instruction in poetry given him so handsomely by the 
worthy knight. And here it may be permitted the Editor 
to profit also by the manuscript, correcting in Shakspeare 
what is absolute nonsense as now printed : 

Vaulting ambition that o'erleaps itself. 

It should be its sell. Sell is saddle in Spenser and else- 
where, from the Latin and Italian. 

This emendation was shewn to the late Mr. Hazlitt, an 
acute man at least, who expressed his conviction that it was 
the right reading, and added somewhat more in approbation 
of it. 


'* But do you woolstaplers call yourselves 
by the style and title of shepherds ? " 


'* Verily, sir, do we ; and I trust by right. 
The last owner of any place is called the master 
more properly than the dead and gone who 
once held it. If that be true (and who doubts 
it ?) we, who have the last of the sheep, namely 
the wool and skin, and who buy all of all the 
flock, surely may more properly be called shep- 
herds, than those idle vagrants who tend them 
only for a season, selling a score or purchasing 
a score, as may happen. '^ 

Here Sir Thomas did pause awhile, and 
then said unto Master Silas, 

** My own cogitations, and not this strip- 
ling, have induced me to consider and to con- 
clude a weighty matter for knightly scholar- 
ship. I never could rightly understand before 
how Colin Clout, and sundry others calling 
themselves shepherds, should argue like doc- 
tors in law, physic, and divinity. 


" Silas ! they were woolstaplers ; and they 
must have exercised their wits in dealing with 
tithe-proctors and parsons, and moreover with 
fellows of colleges from our two learned univer- 
sities, who have sundry lands held under them, 
as thou knowest, and take the small tithes in 
kind. Colin Clout, methinks, from his exten- 
sive learning, might have acquired enough in- 
terest with the Queen's Highness to change his 
name for the better, and, furthermore, her royal 
license to carry armorial bearings, in no peril of 
taint from so unsavoury an appellation." 

Master Silas did interrupt this discourse, by- 

" May it please your worship, the constable 
is waiting." 

Whereat Sir Thomas said tartly, 

" And let him wait."* 

Then to me, 

* It has been suggested that this answer was borrowed 
from Virgil, and goes strongly against the genuineness of 
the manuscript. The Editor's memory was upon the 


'* I hope we have done with verses, and are 
not to be befooled by the lad's nonsense touch- 
ing mermaids or worse creatures." 

Then to Will, 

** William Shakspeare ! we live in a Chris- 
tian land, a land of great toleration and for- 
bearance. Threescore cartsful of faggots a-year 
are fully sufficient to clear our English air from 
every pestilence of heresy and witchcraft. It 
hath not alway been so, God wot! Innocent 
and guilty took their turns before the fire, like 
geese and capons. The spit was never cold ; 
the cook's sleeve was ever above the elbow. 
Countrymen came down from distant villages, 
into towns and cities, to see perverters whom 
they had never heard of, and to learn the right- 
eousness of hatred. When heretics waxed 

stretch to recollect the words: the learned critic supplied 

them : 

" Solum ^neas vocat : et vocet, oro." 

The Editor could only reply, indeed weakly, that calling 
and waiting are not exactly the same, unless when trades- 
men rap and gentlemen are leaving town. 


fewer, the religious began to grumble, that 
God, in losing his enemies, had also lost his 

" Do not thou, William Shakspeare, dig the 
hole for thy own stake. If thou canst not 
make men wise, do not make them merry at 
thy cost. We are not to be paganised any 
more. Having struck from our calendars, and 
unnailed from our chapels, many dozens of de- 
cent saints, with as little compunction and re- 
morse as unlucky lads throw frog-spawn and 
tadpoles out of stagnant ditches, never let us 
think of bringing back amongst us the daintier 
divinities they ousted. All these are the devil's 
imps, beautiful as they appear in what we 
falsely call works of genius, which really and 
truly are the devil's own — statues more graceful 
than humanity, pictures more living than life, 
eloquence that raised single cities above empires, 
poor men above kings. If these are not Satan's 
works, where are they ? I will tell thee where 
they are likewise. In holding vain converse 


with false gods. The utmost we can allow in 
propriety is to call a knight Phoebus, and a 
dame Diana. They are not meat for every 

*^ We must now proceed straightforward 
with the business on which thou comest before 
us. What further sayest thou, witness? 


" His face was toward me : I saw it clearly. 
The graver man followed him into the punt, 
and said, roughly, ' We shall get hanged as 
sure as thou pipest.' 

" Whereunto he answered, 

* Naturally, as fall upon the ground 
The leaves in winter and the girls in spring,' 

And then began he again with the mermaid : 
whereat the graver man clapped a hand before 
his mouth, and swore he should take her in 
wedlock, to have and to hold, if he sang 
another stave. ' And thou shalt be her pretty 
little bridemaid,' quoth he gaily to the graver 
man, chucking him under the chin." 



" And what did Carnaby say unto thee, 
or what didst thou say unto Carnaby ? " 


" Carnaby said unto me, somewhat taunt- 
ingly, * The big squat man, that lay upon thy 
bread-basket like a nightmare, is a punt at 
last, it seems.' 

*' * Punt, and more too,' answered I. * Tarry 
awhile, and thou shalt see this punt (so let me 
call it) lead them into temptation, and swamp 
them, or carry them to the gallows : I would 
not stay else." 


" And what didst thou, Joseph Carnaby? 


*' Finding him neither slack nor shy, I 
readily tarried. We knelt down opposite each 
other, and said our prayers ; and he told me 
he was now comfortable. * The evil one,' said 
he, * hath enough to mind yonder : he shall 
not hurt us.' 


" Never was a sweeter night, had there been 
but some mild ale under it, which any one 
would have sworn it was made for. The milky 
way looked like a long drift of hail-stones on 
a sunny ridge." 


" Hast thou done describing?" 


" Yea, an please your worship." 


" God's blessing be upon thee, honest Car- 
naby ! I feared a moon-fall. In our days 
nobody can think about a plum-pudding but 
the moon comes down upon it. I warrant ye 
this lad here hath as many moons in his poems 
as the Saracens had in their banners." 


'^ I have not hatched mine yet, sir. When- 
ever I do I trust it will be worth taking to 


<* I said all I know of the stars ; but Master 


Euseby can run over half a score and upwards, 
here and there. ' Am I right or wrong ? ' 
cried he, spreading on the back of my hand 
all his fingers, stiff as antlers and cold as icicles. 
* Look up, Joseph ! Joseph ! there is no Lucifer 
in the firmament.' I myself did feel queerish 
and qualmy upon hearing that a star was 
missing, being no master of gainsaying it ; and 
I abased my eyes, and entreated of Euseby to 
do in like manner. And in this posture did 
we both of us remain ; and the missing star 
did not disquiet me ; and all the others seemed 
as if they knew us and would not tell of us ; 
and there was peace and pleasantness over sky 
and earth. And I said to my companion, 

" * How quiet now, good Master Euseby, are 
all God's creatures in this meadow, because 
they never pry into such high matters, but 
breathe sweetly among the pig-nuts. The only 
things we hear or see stirring are the glow- 
worms and dormice, as though they were sent 
for our edification, teaching us to rest con- 


tented with our own little light, and to come 
out and seek our sustenance where none molest 
or thwart us.' " 


" Ye would have it thus, no doubt, when 
your pockets and pouches are full of gins and 


" A bridle upon thy dragon's tongue! And 
do thou. Master Joseph, quit the dormice and 
glow-worms, and tell us whither did the 
rogues go.'* 


" I wot not after they had crossed the river : 
they were soon out of sight and hearing." 


" Went they towards Charlecote ? " 


" Their first steps were thitherward." 


" Did they come back unto the punt ? " 



'* They went down the stream in it, and 
crossed the Avon some fourscore yards below 
where we were standing. They came back in 
it, and moored it to the sedges in which it had 
stood before." 


" How long were they absent ?" 


" Within an hour, or thereabout, all the 
three men returned. Will Shakspeare and 
another were sitting in the middle, the third 

" 'Remember now, gentles ! ' quoth William 
Shakspeare, ' the road we have taken is hence- 
forward a footpath for ever, according to law.' 

"'How so?' asked the punter, turning 
towards him. 

" ' Forasmuch as a corpse hath passed along 
it,* answered he. 

*' Whereupon both Euseby and myself did 


forthwith fall upon our faces, commending our 
souls unto the Lord/* 


" It was then really the dead body that 
quivered so fearfully upon the water, covering 
all the punt ! Christ, deliver us ! I hope the 
keeper they murdered was not Jeremiah. His 
wife and four children would be very charge- 
able, and the man was by no means amiss. 
Proceed ! what further ? " 

^^ On reaching the bank, * I never sat 
pleasanter in my lifetime,' said William Shak- 
speare, * than upon this carcass.' " 


" Lord have mercy upon us ! Thou upon 
a carcass, at thy years ! " 

And the knight drew back his chair half 
an ell further from the table, and his lips 
quivered at the thought of such inhumanity. 

" And what said he more ? and what did 
he?" asked the knight. 



" He patted it smartly, and said, ' Lug it 
out ; break it/ '' 


" These four poor children ! who shall feed 


" Sir ! in God's name have you forgotten 
that Jeremiah is gone to Nun-Eaton to see his 
father, and that the murdered man is the 
buck ? " 


" They killed the buck likewise. But 
what, ye cowardly varlets ! have ye been de- 
ceiving me all this time? And thou, youngster! 
couldst thou say nothing to clear up the case ? 
Thou shalt smart for it. Methought I had lost 
by a violent death the best servant ever man 
had — righteous, if there be no blame in saying 
it, as the prophet whose name he beareth, and 
brave as the lion of Jud ah." 



*' Sir, if these men could deceive your 
worship for a moment, they might deceive me 
for ever. I could not guess what their story 
aimed at, except my ruin. I am inclined to 
lean for once towards the opinion of Master 
Silas, and to believe it was really the stolen 
buck on which this William (if indeed there 
is any truth at all in the story) was sitting." 


" What more hast thou for me that is not 
enigma or parable ? " 


" I did not see the carcass, man's or beast's, 
may it please your worship, and I have re- 
cited and can recite that only which I saw and 
heard. After the words of lugging out and 
breaking it, knives were drawn accordingly. 
It was no time to loiter or linger. We crope 
back under the shadow of the alders and hazels 
on the high bank that bordereth Micklen 


Meadow, and, making straight for the public 
road, hastened homeward." 


'* Hearing this deposition, dost thou affirm 
the like upon thy oath, Master Euseby Treen, 
or dost thou vary in aught essential ? " 


" Upon my oath I do depose and affirm 
the like, and truly the identical same ; and I 
will never more vary upon aught essential." 


" I do now further demand of thee whether 
thou knowest any thing more appertaining 
unto this business.'' 


" Ay, verily : that your worship may never 
hold me for timorsome and superstitious, I 
do furthermore add that some other than deer- 
stealers was abroad. In sign whereof, although 
it was the dryest and clearest night of the 
season, my jerkin was damp inside and outside 
when I reached my house-door." 



" I warrant thee, Euseby, the damp began 
not at the outside. A word in thy ear — Lucifer 
was thy tapster, I trow." 


*' Irreverent swine! hast no awe nor shame? 
Thou hast aggravated thy offence, William 
Shakspeare, by thy foul-mouthedness." 


'* I must remind your worship, that he not 
only has committed this iniquity afore, but 
hath pawed the puddle he made, and relapsed 
into it after due caution and reproof. God 
forbid that what he spake against me, out of 
the gall of his proud stomach, should move 
me. I defy him, a low ignorant wretch, a 
rogue and vagabond, a thief and cut-throat, 
a . . .''^ mong-er and mutton-eater.*' 


* Here the manuscript is blotted; but the probability 
is, that it was fishmonger^ rather than ironmongery fish- 
mongers having always been notorious cheats and liars. 



" Your worship doth hear the learned 
clerk's testimony in my behalf. ' Out of the 
mouth of babes and sucklings — ' " 


" Silas ! The youth has failings — a madcap ; 
but he is pious." 


" Alas, no, sir ! Would I were ! But Sir 
Silas, like the prophet, came to curse and was 
forced to bless me, even me, a sinner, a mutton- 
eater ! " 


" Thou urgedst him. He beareth no ill- 
will towards thee. Thou knewedst, I suspect, 
that the blackness in his mouth proceeded from 
a natural cause." 


" The Lord is merciful ! I was brought 
hither in jeopardy ; I shall return in joy. 
Whether my innocence be declared or other- 
wise, my piety and knowledge will be for- 


warded and increased : for your worship will 
condescend, even from the judgment- seat, to 
enlighten the ignorant where a soul shall be 
saved or lost ! And I, even I, may trespass a 
moment on your courtesy. I quail at the 
words natural cause. Be there any such ? " 


" Youth ! I never thought thee so staid. 
Thou hast, for these many months, been repre- 
sented unto me as one dissolute and light, 
much given unto mummeries and mysteries, 
wakes and carousals, cudgel -fighters and 
mountebanks, and wanton women. They do 
also represent of thee — I hope it may be without 
foundation — that thou enactest the parts, not 
simply of foresters and fairies, girls in the 
green-sickness and friars, lawyers and outlaws, 
but likewise, having small reverence for station, 
of kings and queens, knights and privy-coun- 
sellors, in all their glory. It hath been whis- 
pered, moreover, and the testimony of these 


two witnesses doth appear in some measure to 
countenance and confirm it, that thou hast at 
divers times this last summer been seen and 
heard alone, inasmuch as human eye may 
discover, on the narrow slip of greensward 
between the Avon and the chancel, distorting 
thy body like one possessed, and uttering strange 
language, like unto incantation. This, how- 
ever, Cometh not before me. Take heed ! take 
heed unto thy ways : there are graver things 
in law even than homicide and deer-stealing." 


" And strong against him. Folks have 
been consumed at the stake for pettier felonies 
and upon weaker evidence." 


" To that anon." 

William Shakspeare did hold down his 
head, answering nought. And Sir Thomas 
spake again unto him, as one mild and fatherly, 
if so be that such a word may be spoken of a 


knight and parliament-man. And these are 
the words he spake : 

" Reason and ruminate with thyself now. 
To pass over and pretermit the danger of repre- 
senting the actions of the others, and mainly 
of lawyers and churchmen, the former of 
whom do pardon no offences, and the latter 
those only against God, having no warrant for 
more, canst thou believe it innocent to counter- 
feit kings and queens ? Supposest thou that if 
the impression of their faces on a farthing be 
felonious and rope- worthy, the imitation of head 
and body, voice and bearing, plume and strut, 
crown and mantle, and every thing else that 
maketh them royal and glorious, be aught less ? 
Perpend, young man, perpend! Consider 
who among inferior mortals shall imitate them 
becomingly ? Dreamest thou they talk and act 
like checkmen at Banbury fair ? How can thy 
shallow brain suffice for their vast conceptions ? 
How darest thou say, as they do, hang this fel- 
low — quarter that — flay — mutilate — stab — 


shoot — press — hook — torture — burn alive ? 
These are royalties. Who appointed thee to 
such oflBce ? The Holy Ghost ? He alone can 
confer it ; but when wert thou anointed ? " 

William was so zealous in storing up these 
verities, that he looked as though he were un- 
conscious that the pouring-out was over. He 
started, which he had not done before, at the 
voice of Master Silas ; but soon recovered his 
complacency, and smiled with much serenity at 
being called low-minded varlet. 

*' Low-minded varlet!" cried Master Silas, 
most contemptuously, '^ dost thou imagine that 
king calleth king, like.thy chums, filcher and 
Jibber y v'hirligig and nincompoop? Instead of 
this low vulgarity and sordid idleness, ending 
in nothing, they throw at one another such fel- 
lows as thee by the thousand, and when they 
have cleared the land, render God thanks and 
make peace." 

Willy did now sigh out his ignorance of 
these matters ; and he sighed, mayhap, too, at 


the recollection of the peril he had run into, and 
had ne'er a word on the nail.=^ 

The bowels of Sir Thomas waxed tenderer 
and tenderer; and he opened his lips in this 
fashion : 

" Stripling ! I would now communicate un- 
to thee, on finding thee docile and assentaneous, 
the instruction thou needest on the signification 
of the words natural cause, if thy duty towards 
thy neighbour had been first instilled into 

Whereupon Master Silas did interpose, for 
the dinner-hour was drawing nigh. 

^* We cannot do ^11 at once," quoth he. 
" Coming out of order, it might harm him. 
Malt before hops, the world over, or the beer 

But Sir Thomas was not to be pricked out 
of his form even by so shrewd a pricker ; and, 
like unto one who heareth not, he continued to 

* On the nail appears to be intended to express ready 


look most graciously on the homely vessel that 
stood ready to receive his wisdom : 

" Thy mind," said he, *' being unprepared 
for higher cogitations, and the groundwork and 
religious duty not being well rammer-beaten 
and flinted, I do pass over this supererogatory 
point, and inform thee rather, that bucks and 
swans and herons have something in their very 
names announcing them of knightly apperte- 
nance. And (God forfend that evil do ensue 
therefrom !) that a goose on the common, or a 
game-cock on the loft of cottager or villager, 
may be seized, bagged, and abducted, with far 
less offence to the laws. In a buck there is 
something so gainly and so grand, he treadeth 
the earth with such ease and such agility, he 
abstaineth from all other animals with such 
punctilious avoidance, one would imagine God 
created him when he created knighthood. In 
the swan there is such purity, such coldness is 
there in the element he inhabiteth, such solitude 
of station, that verily he doth remind me of the 


Virgin Queen herself. Of the heron I have less 
to say, not having him about me ; but I never 
heard his lordly croak without the conceit that 
it resembled a chancellor's or a primate's. 

" I do perceive, William Shakspeare, thy 
compunction and contrition." 


" I was thinking, may it please your wor- 
ship, of the game-cock and the goose, having 
but small notion of herons. This doctrine of 
abduction, please your worship, hath been alway 
inculcated by the soundest of our judges. Would 
they had spoken on other points with the same 
clearness. How many unfortunates might 
thereby have been saved from crossing the 
Cordilleras !"=* 

* The Cordilleras are mountains, we know, running 
through South America. Perhaps a pun was intended ; or 
possibly it might, in the age of Elizabeth, have been a vul- 
gar term for hanging, although we find no trace of the ex- 
pression in other books. We have no clue to guide us 
here. It might be suggested that Shakspeare, who shines 
little in geographical knowledge, fancied the Cordilleras to 



" Ay, ay ! they have been fain to fly the 
country at last, thither or elsewhere." 

And then did Sir Thomas call unto him 
Master Silas, and say, 

" Walk we into the bay-window. And 
thou may est come, Ephraim." 

And when we were there together, I, Master 
Silas, and his worship, did his worship say unto 
the chaplain, but oftener looking towards me, 

*' I am not ashamed to avouch that it goeth 
against me to hang this young fellow, richly as 
the offence in its own nature doth deserve it, 
he talketh so reasonably ; not indeed so reason- 
ably, but so like unto what a reasonable man 
may listen to and reflect on. There is so much, 
too, of compassion for others in hard cases, and 
something so very near in semblance to inno- 
cence itself in that airy swing of lighthearted- 

extend into North America, had convicts in his time been 
transported to those colonies. Certainly, many adventurers 
and desperate men went thither. 


ness about him. I cannot fix my eyes (as one 
would say) on the shifting and sudden shade- 
and-shine, which cometh back to me, do what I 
will, and mazes me in a manner, and blinks me." 

At this juncture I was ready to fall upon the 
ground before his worship, and clasp his knees 
for Willy's pardon. But he had so many 
points about him, that I feared to discompose 
'em, and thus make bad worse. Beside which, 
Master Silas left me but scanty space for good 
resolutions, crying, 

" He may be committed, to save time. Af- 
terwards he may be sentenced to death, or he 
may not." 


** Twere shame upon me were he not : 
'twere indication that 1 acted unadvisedly in 
the commitment." 


" The penalty of the law may be commuted, 
if expedient, on application to the fountain of 
mercy in London." 



" Maybe, Silas, those shall be standing 
round the fount of mercy who play in idleness 
and wantonness with its waters, and let them 
not flow widely, nor take their natural course. 
Dutiful gallants may encompass it, and it may 
linger among the flowers they throw into it, 
and never reach the parched lip on the way- 

"These are homely thoughts — thoughts from 
a-field, thoughts for the study and housekeeper's 
room. But whenever I have given utterance 
unto them, as my heart hath often prompted 
me with beatings at the breast, my hearers 
seemed to bear towards me more true and 
kindly affection than my richest fancies and 
choicest phraseologies could purchase. 

" Twere convenient to bethink thee, should 
any other great man's park have been robbed 
this season, no judge upon the bench will back 
my recommendation for mercy. And, indeed, 
how could I expect it? Things may soon be 


brought to such a pass that their lordships shall 
scarcely find three haunches each upon the 

«' Well, Sir ! " quoth Master Silas, ^« you 
have a right to go on in your own way. Make 
him only give up the girl." 

Here Sir Thomas reddened with righteous 
indignation, and answered, 

" I cannot think it ! such a stripling ! poor, 
pennyless : it must be some one else." 

And now Master Silas did redden in his turn 
redder than Sir Thomas, and first asked me, 

*' What the devil do you stare at?" 

And then asked his worship, 

" Who should it be if not the rogue?" and 
his lips turned as blue as a blue-bell. 

Then Sir Thomas left the window, and again 
took his chair, and having stood so long on his 
legs, groaned upon it to ease him. His worship 
scowled with all his might, and looked exceed- 
ingly wroth and vengeful at the culprit, and 
said unto him, 


" Harkye, knave! I have been conferring 
with my learned clerk and chaplain in what 
manner I may, with the least severity, rid the 
county (which thou disgracest) of thee." 

William Shakspeare raised up his eyes, 
modestly and fearfully, and said slowly these 
few words, which, had they been a better and 
nobler man's, would deserve to be written in 
letters of gold. I, not having that art nor sub- 
stance, do therefore write them in my largest 
and roundest character, and do leave space 
about 'em, according to their rank and dignity : 

*' Worshipful sir! 


'* Thou discoursest well," said Sir Thomas, 
" but others can discourse well likewise : thou 
shalt avoid ; I am resolute." 


" I supplicate your honour to impart unto 
me, in your wisdom, the mode and means 



whereby I may surcease to be disgraceful to the 


'* I am not bloody-minded. 

" First, thou shalt have the fairest and 
fullest examination. Much hath been de- 
posed against thee : something may come forth 
for thy advantage. I will not thy death: 
thou shalt not die. 

** The laws have loopholes, like castles, 
both to shoot from and to let folks down." 


*' That pointed ear would look the better 
for paring, and that high forehead can hold 
many letters." 

Whereupon did William, poor lad! turn 
deadly pale, but spake not. 

Sir Thomas then abated a whit of his seve- 
rity, and said, staidly : 

" Testimony doth appear plain and positive 
against thee; nevertheless am I minded and 
prompted to aid thee myself, in disclosing and 


unfolding what thou couldst not of thine own 
wits, in furtherance of thine own defence. 

*' One witness is persuaded and assured 
of the evil spirit having been abroad, and the 
punt appeared unto him diversely from what 
it appeared unto the other.'* 


" If the evil spirit produced one appear- 
ance, he might have produced all, with 
deference to the graver judgment of your 

" If what seemed punt was devil, what 
seemed buck might have been devil too ; nay, 
more easily, the horns being forthcoming. 

" Thieves and reprobates do resemble him 
more nearly still ; and it would be hard if 
he could not make free with their bodies, 
when he has their souls already." 


•' But, then, those voices! and thou thy- 
self. Will Shakspeare !" 



'' O might I kiss the hand of my de- 
liverer, whose clear-sightedness throweth such 
manifest and plenary light upon my inno- 
cence !" 


'* How so? What light, in God's name, 
have I thrown upon it as yet?" 


" Oh ! those voices ! those faeries and 
spirits! whence came they? None can deal 
with 'em but the devil, the parson, and 
witches. And does not the devil oftentimes 
take the very form, features, and habiliments, 
of knights, and bishops, and other good men, 
to lead them into temptation and destroy 
them? or to injure their good name, in failure 
of seduction ? 

'^ He is sure of the wicked : he lets them 
go their ways out of hand. 

" I think your worship once delivered some 
such observation, in more courtly guise, which 


I would not presume to ape. If it was not 
your worship, it was our glorious lady the 
queen, or the wise Master Walsingham, or the 
great Lord Cecil. I may have marred and 
broken it, as sluts do a pancake, in the 


** Why! ay, indeed, I had occasion once to 
remark as much." 


" So have I heard in many places ; although 
I was not present when Matthew Atterend 
fought about it, for the honour of Kineton 


*' Fought about it !" 


*' As your honour recollects. Not but on 
other occasions he would have fought no less 
bravely for the queen." 


" We must get thee through, were it only 


for thy memory — the most precious gift among 
the mental powers that Providence hath be- 
stowed upon us. I had half forgotten the 
thing myself. Thou mayest, in time, take 
thy satchel for London, and aid good old 
Master Holingshed. 

" We must clear thee, Will ! I am slow 
to surmise that there is blood upon thy 

His worship's choler had all gone down 
again; and he sat as cool and comfortable 
as a man sitteth to be shaved. Then called he 
on Euseby Treen, and said — 

*' Euseby Treen ! tell us whether thou ob- 
servedst any thing unnoticed or unsaid by the 
last witness." 


*' One thing only, sir ! 


" When they had passed the water, an 
owlet hooted after them ; and methought, if 
they had any fear of God before their eyes, 


they would have turned back, he cried so 


" Sir, I cannot forbear to take the owlet 
out of your mouth. He knocks them all on 
the head like so many mice. Likely story! 
One fellow hears him cry lustily, the other 
doth not hear him at all.'* 


" Not hear him ! A body might have heard 
him at Barford or Sherbourne." 


*' Why didst not name him ? Canst not 
answer me V* 


*' He doubted whether punt were punt — I 
doubted whether owlet were owlet, after Lu- 
cifer was away from the roll-call. 

" We say, speak the truth and shame the % 
devil; but shaming him is one thing, your ^ 
honour, and facing him another! I have 
heard owlets, but never owlet like him." 



'* The Lord be praised ! All, at last, a- 
running to my rescue. 

" Owlet, indeed ! Your worship may have 
remembered in an ancient book — indeed, 
what book is so ancient that your worship 
doth not remember it ? — a book printed by 
Doctor Faustus *' 


** Before he dealt with the devil?" 


*' Not long before ; it being the very book 
that made the devil think it worth his while 
to deal with him." 


*' What chapter thereof wouldst thou re- 
call unto my recollection 1 " 


" That concerning owls, with the grim 
print afore it. 

" Doctor Faustus, the wise doctor, who 
knew other than owls and owlets, knew the 


tempter in that form. Faustus was not your 
man for fancies and figments ; and he tells us 
that, to his certain knowledge, it was verily an 
owl's face that whispered so much mischief in 
the ear of our first parent. 

*' One plainly sees it, quoth Doctor Faustus, 
under that gravity which in human life we call 
dignity, but of which we read nothing in the 
Gospel. We despise the hangman, we detest 
the hanged ; and yet, saith Duns Scot us, could 
we turn aside the heavy curtain, or stand high 
enough a-tiptoe to peep through its chinks and 
crevices, we should perhaps find these two 
characters to stand justly among the most 
innocent in the drama. He who blinketh the 
eyes of the poor wretch about to die doeth it 
out of mercy ; those who preceded him, bidding 
him in the garb of justice to shed the blood of 
his fellow-man, had less or none. So they 
hedge well their own grounds, what care they? 
For this do they catch at stakes and thorns, 
at quick and rotten ..." 


Here Master Silas interrupted the discourse 
of the devil's own doctor, delivered and printed 
by him before he was the devil's, to which his 
worship had listened very attentively and de- 
lightedly. But Master Silas could keep his 
temper no longer, and cried fiercely, " Seditious 
sermonizer! hold thy peace, or thou shalt 
answer for't before convocation." 


" Silas! thou dost not approve then the 
doctrine of this Doctor Duns ? " 


*' Heretical Rabbi ! " 


" If two of a trade can never agree y yet 
surely two of a name may." 


" Who dares call me heretical ? who dares 
call me rabbi? who dares call me Scotus? 
Spider ! spider ! yea, thou hast one corner left : 
I espy thee ; and my broom shall reach thee 




" I perceive that Master Silas doth verily 
believe I have been guilty of suborning the 
witnesses, at least the last, the best man (if any 
dijfference) of the two. No, sir, no. If my 
family and friends have united their wits and 
money for this purpose, be the crime of per- 
verted justice on their heads ! They injure 
whom they intended to serve. Improvident 
men ! if the young may speak thus of the 
elderly ; could they imagine to themselves that 
your worship was to be hoodwinked and Ted 
astray ? " 


" No man shall ever dare to hoodwink me, 
to lead me astray, no, nor lead me anywise. 
Powerful defence ! Heyday ! Sit quiet, Master 
Treen ! — Euseby Treen ! dost hear me ? Clench 
thy fist again, sirrah ! and I clap thee in the 

*' Joseph Carnaby ! do not scratch thy 
breast nor thy pate before me." 


Now Joseph had not only done that in his 
wrath, but had unbuckled his leathern garter, 
fit instrument for strife and blood, and per- 
adventure would have smitten, had not the 
knight, with magisterial authority, interposed. 

His worship said unto him gravely, '* Joseph 
Carnaby! Joseph Carnaby! hast thou never 
read the words ^ Put up thy sword f' 

" Subornation ! your worship ! " cried Master 
Joe. *^ The fellow hath ne'er a shilling in 
leather or till, and many must go to suborn 
one like me." 

" I do believe it of thee," said Sir Thomas ; 
" but patience, man ! patience ! he rather tended 
towards exculpating thee. Ye have far to 
walk for dinner; ye may depart." 

They went accordingly. 

Then did Sir Thomas say, " These are hot 
meni Silas ! " 

And Master Silas did reply unto him, 
*' These are brands that would set fire to the 
bulrushes in the mill-pool. I know these 


twain for quiet folks, having coursed with them 
over Wincott." 

Sir Thomas then said unto William, " It 
behoveth thee to stand clear of yon Joseph, 
unless when thou may est call to thy aid the 
Matthew Atterend thou speakest of. He did 
then fight valiantly, eh ? " 


'* His cause fought valiantly; his fist but 
seconded it. He won ; proving the golden 
words to be no property of our lady's, although 
her highness hath never disclaimed them." 


" What art thou saying? '* 


" So I heard from a preacher at Oxford, 
who had preached at Easter in the chapel- 
royal of Westminster." 


" Thou! why how could that happen? 
Oxford! chapel-royal! 




" And to whom I said (your worship will 
forgive my forwardness), / have the honour, 
sir, to live within two measured miles of the very 
Sir Thomas Lucy who spake that. And I 
vow I said it without any hope or belief that 
he would invite me, as he did, to dine with 
him thereupon/' 


" There be nigh upon three miles betwixt 
this house and Stratford bridge-end. 


** I dropt a mile in my pride and exultation, 
God forgive me ! I would not conceal my 


'* Wonderful ! that a preacher so learned 
as to preach before majesty in the chapel-royal, 
should not have caught thee tripping over a 
whole lawful mile — a good third of the distance 
between my house and the cross roads. This 
is incomprehensible in a scholar." 



" God willed that he should become my 
teacher, and, in the bowels of his mercy, hid 
my shame." 


" How earnest thou into the converse of 
such eminent and ghostly men ?" 


" How, indeed ! Every thing against me." 
He sighed, and entered into a long dis- 
course, which Master Silas would at sundry 
times have interrupted, but that Sir Thomas 
more than once frowned upon him, even as he 
had frowned heretofore on young Will, who 
thus began and continued his narration. 

" Hearing the preacher preach at Saint 
Mary's (for being about my father's business 
on Saturday, and not choosing to be a-horse^ 
back on Sundays, albeit time-pressed, I footed 
it to Oxford for my edification on the Lord's 
day, leaving the sorrel with Master Hal Webster 
of the Tankard and Unicorn) — hearing him 


preach, as I was saying, before the University 
in St. Mary's church, and hearing him use more- 
over the very words that Matthew fought about, 
I was impatient (God forgive me !) for the end 
and consummation, and I thought I never 
should hear those precious words that ease 
every man's heart, * Now to conclude.' How- 
ever, come they did. I hurried out among the 
foremost, and thought the congratulations of 
the other doctors and dons would last for ever. 
He walked sharply off, and few cared to keep 
his pace ; for they are lusty men mostly ; and 
spiteful bad women had breathed * in the faces 

* In that age there was prevalent a sort of cholera, on 
which Fracastorius, half a century before, wrote a Latin poem, 
employing the graceful nymphs of Homer and Hesiod, 
somewhat disguised, in the drudgery of pounding certain 
barks and minerals. An article in the Impeachment of 
• Cardinal Wolsey, accuses him of breathing in tlie king's 
face, knowing that he was affected with this cholera. It 
was a great assistant to the Reformation, by removing some 
of the most vigorous champions that opposed it. In the 
Holy College it was followed by the sweating sickness, 
which thinned it very sorely ; and several even of God's 


of some among them, or the gowns had got 
between their legs. For my part, I was not to 
be balked : so, tripping on aside him, I looked 
in his face askance. Whether he misgave, 
or how, he turned his eyes downward. No 
matter — have him I would. I licked my lips 
and smacked them loud and smart, and, scarcely 
venturing to nod, I gave my head such a sort 
of motion as dace and roach give an angler's 
quill when they begin to bite. And this fairly 
hooked him." 

" ' Young gentleman ! ' said he, ^ where is 
your gown ? ' 

'^ ' Reverend sir!' said I, * I am unworthy 
to wear one.' 

'* ' A proper youth, nevertheless, and might- 
ily well-spoken!' he was pleased to say. 

" ^ Your reverence hath given me heart, 

vicegerents were laid under tribulation by it. Among the 
chambers of the Vatican it hung for ages, and it crowned 
the labours of Pope Leo XII., of blessed memory, with a 
crown somewhat uneasy. 


which failed me/ was my reply. ' Ah ! your 
reverence ! those words about the devil were 
spicy words ; but, under favour, I do know the 
brook-side they sprang and flowered by. Tis 
just where it runs into Avon ; 'tis called Hog- 

" ' Right ! ' quoth he, putting his hand 
gently on my shoulder ; ' but if I had thought 
it needful to say so in my sermon, I should 
have affronted the seniors of the University, 
since many claim them, and some perad ven- 
ture would fain transpose them into higher 
places, and, giving up all right and title to 
them, would accept in lieu thereof the poor 
recompense of a mitre.' 

'* I wished (unworthy wish for a Sunday !) 
I had Matthew Atterend in the midst of them. 
He would have given them skulls mitre-fa- 
shioned, if mitres are cloven now as we see 
them on ancient monuments. Matt is your 
milliner for gentles, who think no more harm 
of purloining rich saws in a mitre, than lane- 


bom boys do of embezzling hazle-nuts in a 
woollen cap. I did not venture to expound or 
suggest my thoughts, but feeling my choler 
rise higher and higher, I craved permission to 
make my obeisance and depart." 

"'Where dost thou lodge, young man?' 
said the preacher. 

*' ' At the public,' said I, * where my father 
customarily lodgeth. There, too, is a mitre of 
the old fashion, swinging on the sign-post in the 
middle of the street.* 

" * Respectable tavern enough ! ' quoth the 
reverend doctor ; * and worthy men do turn in 
there, even quality — Master Davenant, Master 
Powel, Master Whorwood, aged and grave men. 
But taverns are Satan's chapels, and are al- 
ways well attended on the Lord's day, to twit 
him. Hast thou no friend in such a city as 

" * Only the landlady of the Mitre,' said I. 

*' ' A comely woman,' quoth he, ' but too 
young for business by half. 


*' *■ Stay thou with me to-day, and fare fru- 
gally, but safely. 

'^ * What may thy name be, and where is 
thy abode ? ' 

" * William Shakspeare, of Stratford-upon- 
Avon, at your service, sir.' 

*' ' And welcome,' said he ; *■ thy father ere 
now hath bought our college wool. A truly 
good man we ever found him ; and I doubt not 
he hath educated his son to follow him in his 
paths. There is in the blood of man, as in the 
blood of animals, that which giveth the temper 
and disposition. These require nurture and 
culture. But what nurture will turn flint-stones 
into garden mould? or what culture rear cab- 
bages in the quarries of Hedington Hill ? To 
be well born is the greatest of all God's primary 
blessings, young man, and there are many well 
born among the poor and needy. Thou art not 
of the indigent and destitute, who have great 
temptations ; thou art not of the wealthy and 
affluent, who have greater still. God hath 


placed thee, William Shakspeare, in that plea- 
sant island, on one side whereof are the syrens, 
on the other the harpies, but inhabiting the 
coasts on the wider continent, and unable to 
make their talons felt, or their voices heard by 
thee. Unite with me in prayer and thanks- 
giving for the blessings thus vouchsafed. We 
must not close the heart when the finger of 
God would touch it. Enough, if thou sayest 
only, Ml/ soul, praise thou the Lord!* " 

Sir Thomas said, '^ Amen!" Master Silas 
was mute for the moment, but then quoth he, 
" I can say amen too, in the proper place." 

The knight of Charlecote, who appeared to 
have been much taken with this conversation, 
then interrogated Willy : 

*' What farther might have been thy dis- 
course with the doctor? or did he discourse at 
all at trencher-time? Thou must have been 
very much abashed to sit down at table with 
one who weareth a pure lamb-skin across his 
shoulder, and moreover a pink hood." 



'* Faith! was I, your honour! and could 
neither utter nor gulp." 


" These are good signs. Thou hast not lost 
all grace." 


" With the encouragement of Doctor Glas- 
ton " 


" And was it Dr. Glaston?" 


" Said I not so?" 


" The learnedst clerk in Christendom ! a 
very Friar Bacon I The pope offered a hun- 
dred marks in Latin to who should eviscerate 
or evirate him — poisons very potent, whereat 
the Italians are handy — so apostolic and de- 
sperate a doctor is Doctor Glaston ! so acute in 
his quiddities, and so resolute in his bearing I 
He knows the dark arts, but stands aloof from 


them. Prythee, what were his words unto 


" Manna, sir, manna ! pure from the 


" Ay, but what spake he? for most sermons 
are that, and likewise many conversations after 


" He spake of the various races and quali- 
ties of men, as before stated ; but chiefly on the 
elect and reprobate, and how to distinguish and 
know them." 


" Did he go so far?" 


" He told me, that by such discussion he 
should say enough to keep me constantly out of 
evil company." 


" See there! see there! and yet thou art 
come before me ! Can nothing warn thee 1 " 



" I dare not dissemble, nor feign, nor hold 
aught back, although it be to my confusion. 
As well may I speak at once the whole truth ; 
for your worship could find it out if I abstained." 


" Ay, that I should indeed, and shortly. 
But, come now, I am sated of thy follies and 
roguish tricks, and yearn after the sound doc- 
trine of that pious man. What expounded the 
grave Glaston upon signs and tokens whereby 
ye shall be known?" 


" Wonderful things ! things beyond belief! 
* There be certain men,' quoth he " 


" He began well. This promises. But why 
canst not thou go on?" 


" * There be certain men, who, rubbing one 
corner of the eye, do see a peacock's feather at 
the other, and even lire. We know, William, 


what that lire is, and whence it cometh. Those 
wicked men, William, all have their marks 
upon them, be it only a corn, or a wart, or a 
mole, or a hairy ear, or a toe-nail turned in- 
ward. Sufficient, and more than sufficient! 
He knoweth his own by less tokens. There is 
not one of them that doth not sweat at some 
secret sin committed, or some inclination toward 
it unsnaffled. 

" * Certain men are there, likewise, who 
venerate so little the glorious works of the 
Creator, that I myself have known them to 
sneeze at the sun ! Sometimes it was against 
their will, and they would gladly have checked 
it had they been able ; but they were forced to 
shew what they are. In our carnal state we 
say, What is one against numbers? In ano- 
ther, we shall truly say. What are numbers 
against one?'" 

Sir Thomas did ejaculate, ^' Amen ! Amen !" 
And then his lips moved silently, piously, and 
quickly ; and then said he, audibly and loudly. 


^^ And make us at last true Israelites /" 

After which he turned to young Willy, and 
said anxiously, 

*' Hast thou more, lad? give us it while the 
Lord strengtheneth." 

" Sir," answered Willy, " although I 
thought it no trouble, on my return to the 
Mitre, to write down every word I could remem- 
ber, and although few did then escape me, yet 
at this present I can bring to mind but scanty 
sentences, and those so stray and out of order 
that they would only prove my incapacity for 
sterling wisdom, and my incontinence of spi- 
ritual treasure." 


** Even that sentence hath a twang of the 
doctor in it. Nothing is so sweet as humility. 
The mountains may descend, but the valleys 
cannot rise. Every man should know him- 
self. Come, repeat what thou canst. I would 
fain have three or four more heads.*' 



" I know not whether I can give your wor- 
ship more than one other. Let me try. It was 
when Doctor Glaston was discoursing on the 
protection the wise and powerful should afford 
to the ignorant and weak : — 

" ' In the earlier ages of mankind, your 
Greek and Latin authors inform you, there 
went forth sundry worthies, men of might, to 
deliver, not wandering damsels, albeit for those 
likewise they had stowage, but low-conditioned 
men, who fell under the displeasure of the 
higher, and groaned in thraldom and captivity. 
And these mighty ones were believed to have 
done such services to poor humanity, that their 
memory grew greater than they, as shadows do 
than substances at day-fall. And the sons and 
grandsons of the delivered did laud and mag- 
nify those glorious names ; and some in grati- 
tude, and some in tribulation, did ascend the 
hills, which appeared unto them as altars be- 
strown with flowers and herbage for heaven's 


acceptance. And many did go far into the 
quiet groves, under lofty trees, looking for 
whatever was mightiest and most protecting. 
And in such places did they cry aloud unto the 
mighty, who had left them, 

^^ ^ Return! return! help us! help us! he 
Messed ! for ever blessed ! ' 

'^ ' Vain men ! but, had they stayed there, 
not evil. Out of gratitude, purest gratitude, 
rose idolatry. For the devil sees the fairest, 
and soils it. 

'* * In these our days, methinks, whatever 
other sins we may fall into, such idolatry is the 
least dangerous. For, neither on the one side 
is there much disposition for gratitude, nor on 
the other much zeal to deliver the innocent and 
oppressed. Even this deliverance, although a 
merit, and a high one, is not the highest. For- 
giveness is beyond it. Forgive, or ye shall not 
be forgiven. This ye may do every day ; for, if 
ye find not offences, ye feign them ; and surely 
ye may remove your own work, if ye may 


remove another's. To rescue requires more 
thought and wariness : learn then the easier 
lesson first. Afterwards, when ye rescue any 
from another's violence, or from his own (which 
oftentimes is more dangerous, as the enemies 
are within not only the penetrails of his house 
but of his heart), bind up his wounds before ye 
send him on his way. Should ye at any time 
overtake the erring, and resolve to deliver him 
up, I will tell you whither to conduct him. 
Conduct him to his Lord and Master, whose 
household he hath left. It is better to consign 
him to Christ his Saviour than to man his mur- 
derer : it is better to bid him live than to bid 
him die. The one word our Teacher and Pre- 
server said, the other our enemy and destroyer. 
Bring him back again, the stray, the lost one ! 
bring him back, not with clubs and cudgels, 
not with halberts and halters, but generously 
and gently, and with the linking of the arm. 
In this posture shall God above smile upon ye : 
in this posture of yours he shall recognise again 



his beloved Son upon earth. Do ye likewise, 
and depart in peace.' " 

William had ended, and there was silence 
in the hall for some time after, when Sir 
Thomas said, 

" He spake unto somewhat mean persons, 
who may do it without disparagement. I look 
for authority, I look for doctrine, and find 
none yet. If he could not have drawn us out 
a thread or two from the coat of an apostle, he 
might have given us a smack of Augustin, or 
a sprig of Basil. Our older sermons are headier 
than these, Master Silas ! our new beer is the 
, sweeter and clammier, and wants more spice. 
The doctor hath seasoned his with pretty wit 
enough, to do him justice, which in a sermon 
is never out of place ; for if there be the bane 
there likewise is the antidote. 

" What dost thou think about it. Master 


*' I would not give ten farthings for ten 
folios of such sermons." 



" These words, Master Silas, will oftener 
be quoted than any others of thine ; but rarely 
(do I suspect) as applicable to Doctor Glaston. 
I must stick unto his gown. I must declare 
that, to my poor knowledge, many have been 
raised to the bench of bishops for less wisdom, 
and worse than is contained in the few sen- 
tences I have been commanded by authority 
to recite. No disparagement to any body ! I 
know. Master Silas, and multitudes bear 
witness, that thou above most art a dead hand 
at a sermon." 


" Touch my sermons, wilt dare ? " 


" Nay, Master Silas, be not angered : it 
is courage enough to hear them." 


" Now, Silas, hold thy peace and rest con- 
tented. He hath excused himself unto thee, 
throwing in a compliment far above his station. 


and not unworthy of Rome or Florence. I did 
not think him so ready. Our Warwickshire 
lads are fitter for football than courtesies ; and, 
sooth to say, not only the inferior." 

His worship turned from Master Silas 
towards William, and said, " Brave Willy, 
thou hast given us our bitters; we are ready 
now for any thing solid. What hast left ? " 


" Little or nothing, sir." 


" Well, give us that little or nothing." 
William Shakspeare was obedient to the 
commands of Sir Thomas, who had spoken 
thus kindly unto him, and had deigned to cast 
at him from his lordly dish (as the Psalmist 
hath it) a fragment of facetiousness. 


" Alas, sir ! may I repeat it without offence, 
it not being doctrine but admonition, and meant 
for me only ? " 


*' Speak it the rather for that," quoth Sir 

Then did William give utterance to the 
words of the preacher, not indeed in his ser- 
mon at St. Mary's, but after dinner. 

'* * Lust seizeth us in youth, ambition in 
mid-life, avarice in old age; but vanity and 
pride are the besetting sins that drive the 
angels from our cradle, pamper us with lus- 
cious and most unwholesome food, ride our 
first stick with us, mount our first horse with 
us, wake with us in the morning, dream with 
us in the night, and never at any time abandon 
us. In this world, beginning with pride and 
vanity, we are delivered over from tormentor 
to tormentor, until the worst tormentor of all 
taketh absolute possession of us for ever, seizing 
us at the mouth of the grave, enchaining us in 
his own dark dungeon, standing at the door, 
and laughing at our cries. But the Lord, out 
of his infinite mercy, hath placed in the hand 
of every man the helm to steer his course by. 


pointing it out with his finger, and giving him 
strength as well as knowledge to pursue it. 
^ « < William ! William ! there is in the moral 
straits a current from right to wrong, but no 
reflux from wrong to right ; for which desti- 
nation we must hoist our sails aloft and ply 
our oars incessantly, or night and the tempest 
will overtake us, and we shall shriek out in 
vain from the billows, and irrecoverably sink.*" 

" Amen ! " cried Sir Thomas most devoutly, 
sustaining his voice long and loud. 

" Open that casement, good Silas ! the day 
is sultry for the season of the year : it ap- 
proacheth unto noontide. The room is close, 
and those blue flies do make a strange hubbub." 


" In troth do they, sir ; they come from 
the kitchen, and do savour woundily of roast 
goose ! And, methinks " 


" What bethinkest thou?" 



** The fancy of a moment — a light and 
vain one." 


" Thou relievest me ; speak it ? " 


" How could the creatures cast their coarse 
rank odour thus far ? even into thy presence ! 
A noble and spacious hall ! Charlecote, in my 
mind, beats Warwick Castle, and challenges 
Kenil worth." 


^' The hall is well enough : I must say it 
is a noble hall — a hall for a queen to sit down 
in. And T stuffed an arm-chair with horse-hair 
on purpose, feathers over it, swan-down over 
them again, and covered it with scarlet cloth 
of Bruges, five crowns the short ell. But her 
highness came not hither ; she was taken short; 
she had a tongue in her ear." 


" Where all is spring, all is buzz and murmur." 



" Quaint and solid as the best yew-hedge. 
I marvel at thee. A knight might have spoken 
it under favour. They stopped her at War- 
wick — to see what? two old towers that don't 
match,''^ and a portcullis that (people say) 

* Sir Thomas seems to have been jealous of these two 
towers, certainly the finest in England. If Warwick Castle 
could barrow the windows from Kenilworth, it would be 
complete. The knight is not very courteous on its hospi- 
tality. He may, perhaps, have experienced it, as Garrick 
and Quin did under the present occupant's grandfather, on 
whom the title of Earl of Warwick was conferred for the 
eminent services he had rendered to his country as one of 
the lords of the bedchamber to his Majesty George the 
Second. The verses of Garrick on his invitation and visit 
are remembered by many. Quin's are less known. 

" He shewed us Guy's pot, but the soup he forgot ; 
Not a meal did his lordship allow, 
Unless we gnaw'd o'er the blade-bone of the boar, 
Or the rib of the famous Dun Cow. 

" When Nevile the great Earl of Warwick lived here, 
Three oxen for breakfast were slain. 
And strangers invited to sports and good cheer, 
And invited again and again. 


opens only upon fast- days. Charlecote Hall, 
I could have told her sweet highness, was 
built by those Lucies who came over with 
Julius Cesar and William the Conqueror, with 
cross and scallop-shell on breast and beaver." 

*< But, honest Willy!?'' 

Such were the very words ; I wrote them 
down with two signs in the margent ; one a 
mark of admiration, as thus ( ! ), the other of 
interrogation (so we call it) as thus (?)" 

" But, honest Willy, I would fain hear 
more," quoth he, ** about the learned Doctor 
Glaston. He seemeth to be a man after God's 
own heart/' 

** This earl is in purse or in spirit so low, 
That he with no oxen will feed 'em ; 
And all of the former great doings we know 
Is, he gives us a book and we read 'em." 


** Stale peers are but tough morsels, and 'twere well 
If we had found the /resA more eatable : 
Garrick ! I do not say 'twere well for hiniy 
For we had pluck'd the plover limb from limb." 





" Ay is he! Never doth he sit down to 
dinner hut he readeth first a chapter of the 
Revelations ; and if he tasteth a pound of 
hutter at Carfax, he saith a grace long enough 
to bring an appetite for a baked bull's * . . . 
zle. If this be not after God's own heart, I 
know not what is." 


" I would fain confer with him, but that 
Oxford lieth afar off — a matter of thirty miles, 
I hear. I might, indeed, write unto him : but 
our Warwickshire pens are mighty broad- 
nibbed ; and there is a something in this 
plaguy ink of ours sadly ropy " 

* Another untoward blot ! but leaving no doubt of the 
word. The only doubt is, whether he meant the muzzle of 
the animal itself, or one of those leathern muzzles which are 
often employed to coerce the violence of ferocious animals. 
In besieged cities men have been reduced to such extremi- 
ties. But the muzzkj in this place, we suspect, would 
more properly be called the blinker,vfhic\i is often put upon 
bulls in pastures when they are vicious. 


" I fear there is!" quoth Willy. 

" And I should scorn," continued his wor- 
ship, " to write otherwise than in a fine Italian 
character to the master of a college near in 
dignity to knighthood." 


" Worshipful sir ! is there no other way of 
communicating but by person, or writing, or 
messages V 


'* I will consider and devise. At present 
I can think of none so satisfactory." 

And now did the great clock over the gate- 
way strike. And Bill Shakspeare did move his 
lips, even as Sir Thomas had moved his ere- 
while in ejaculating. And when he had wagged 
them twice or thrice after the twelve strokes 
of the clock were over, again he ejaculated 
with voice also, saying, 

" Mercy upon us ! how the day wears ! 
Twelve strokes ! Might I retire, please your 
worship, into the chapel for about three quar- 


ters of an hour, and perform the service* as 
ordained ?" 

Before Sir Thomas could give him leave or 
answer, did Sir Silas cry aloud, 

" He would purloin the chalice, worth forty- 
eight shillings, and melt it down in the twink- 
ling of an eye, he is so crafty." 

But the knight was more reasonable, and 
said reprovingly, 

** There now, Silas ! thou talkest widely, 
and verily in malice, if there be any in thee." 
" Try him," answered Master Silas ; " I don't 

* This would countenance the opinion of those who 
are inclined to believe that Shakspeare was a Roman 
Catholic. His hatred and contempt of priests, which are 
demonstrated wherever he has introduced them, may have 
originated from the unfairness of Silas Gough. Nothing of 
that kind, we may believe, had occurred to him from friars 
and monks, whom he treats respectfully and kindly, perhaps 
in return for some such services to himself as Friar Law- 
rence had bestowed on Romeo, or rather less ; for Shaks- 
peare was grateful. The words quoted by him from some 
sermon, now lost, prove him no friend to the filchings and 
swindling of popery. 


kneel where he does. Could he have but his 
wicked will of me he would chop my legs off, 
as he did the poor buck's." 


" No, no, no ; he hath neither guile nor re- 
venge in him. We may let him have his way, 
now that he hath taken the right one." 


" Popery ! sheer popery ! strong as harts- 
horn ! Your papists keep these outlandish 
hours for their masses and mummery. Surely 
we might let God alone at twelve o'clock ! 
Have we no bowels ?" 


" Gracious sir ! I do not urge it; and the 
time is now past by some minutes." 


" Art thou popishly inclined, William?" 


" Sir, I am not popishly inclined : I am not 
inclined to pay tribute of coin or understand- 
ing to those who rush forward with a pistol at 


my breast, crying, ' Stand, or you are a dead 
man,' I have but one guide in faith — a pow- 
erful, an almighty one. He will not suffer to 
waste away and vanish the faith for which he 
died. He hath chosen in all countries pure 
hearts for its depositaries ; and I would rather 
take it from a friend and neighbour, intelligent 
and righteous, and rejecting lucre, than from 
some foreigner educated in the pride of cities 
or in the moroseness of monasteries, who sells 
me what Christ gave me, his own flesh and 

" I can repeat by heart what I read above 
a year agone, albeit I cannot bring to mind the 
title of the book in which I read it. These 
are the words. 

*' ' The most venal and sordid of all the 
superstitions that have swept and darkened 
our globe, may, indeed, like African locusts, 
have consumed the green corn in very exten- 
sive regions, and may return periodically to 
consume it j but the strong unwearied labourer 


who sowed it hath alway sown it in other places 
less exposed to such devouring pestilences. 
Those cunning men who formed to themselves 
the gorgeous plan of universal dominion, were 
aware that they had a better chance of esta- 
blishing it than brute ignorance or brute force 
could supply, and that soldiers and their pay- 
masters were subject to other and powerfuller 
fears than the transitory ones of war and in- 
vasion. What they found in heaven they 
seized; what they wanted they forged. 

" * And so long as there is vice and ignorance 
in the world, so long as fear is a passion, their 
dominion will prevail ; but their dominion is 
not, and never shall be, universal. Can we 
wonder that it is so general? can we wonder 
that any thing is wanting to give it authority 
and effect, when every learned, every prudent, 
every powerful, every ambitious man in Europe, 
for above a thousand years, united in the 
league to consolidate it? 

" The old dealers in the shambles, where 


Christ's body is exposed for sale, in convenient 
marketable slices,"^ have not covered with 
blood and filth the whole pavement. Beauti- 
ful usages are remaining still — kinder affec- 
tions^ radiant hopes, and ardent aspirations ! 

" ' It is a comfortable thing to reflect, as they 
do, and as we may do unblamably, that we 
are uplifting to our Guide and Maker the same 
incense of the heart, and are uttering the very 
words, which our dearest friends in all quarters 
of the earth, nay in heaven itself, are offering 
to the throne of grace at the same moment. 

*' * Thus are we together through the im- 
mensity of space. What are these bodies ? Do 
they unite us ? No ; they keep us apart and asun- 
der even while we touch. Realms and oceans, 
worlds and ages, open before two spirits bent 

* It is a pity that the old divines should have indulged, 
as they often did, in such images as this. Some readers in 
search of argumentative subtility, some in search of sound 
Christianity, some in search of pure English undefiled, 
have gone through with them ; and their labours (however 
heavy) have been well repaid. 


on heaven. What a choir surrounds us when 
we resolve to live unitedly and harmoniously 
in Christian faith !'" 


" Now, Silas, what sayest thou ?" 


" Ignorant fool !" 


" Ignorant fools are bearable, Master Silas ! 
your wise ones are the worst." 


" Erythee no bandying of loggerheads." 


" Or else what mortal man shall say 
Whose shins may suffer in the fray." 


" Thou reasonest aptly and tiniest well. And 
surely being now in so rational and religious 
a frame of mind, thou couldst recall to me^ 
mory a section or head or two of the sermon 
holden at Saint Mary's. It would do thee 
and us as much good as Lighten our darkness^ 


or Forasmuch as it hath pleased ; and some- 
what less than three quarters of an hour (may- 
be less than one quarter) sufficeth.'* 


" Or he hangs without me. I am for dinner 
in half the time." 


" Silas ! Silas ! he hangeth not with thee or 
without thee." 


" He thinketh himself a clever fellow : but 
he (look ye) is the cleverest that gets off." ' 

*' I hold quite the contrary," quoth Will 
Shakspeare, winking at Master Silas, from the 
comfort and encouragement he had just re- 
ceived touching the hanging. 

And Master Silas had his answer ready, 
and shewed that he was more than a match 
for poor Willy in wit and poetry. 

He answered thus : — 

" If winks are wit, 


Thou hadst other bolts to kill bucks withal. 
In wit, sirrah, thou art a mere child." 


" Little dogs are jealous of children, great 
ones fondle them." 


" An that were written in the Apocrypha, 
in the very teeth of Bel and the Dragon, it 
could not be truer. I have witnessed it with 
my own eyes over and over. 


" He will take this for wit, likewise, now 
the arms of Lucy do seal it." 


" Silas, they may stamp wit, they may 
further wit, they may send wit into good com- 
pany, but not make it." 


" Behold my wall of defence!" 


" An thou art for walls, I have one for 
thee from Oxford, pithy and apposite, sound 


and solid, and trimmed up becomingly, as a 
collar of brawn with a crown of rosemary, or 
a boar's head with a lemon in the mouth." 


" Egad, Master Silas ! those are your walls 
for lads to climb over, an they were higher 
than Babel's." 


'* Have at thee ! 

" Thou art a wall 
To make the ball 
Rebound from. 

" Thou hast a back 
For beadle's crack 

To sound from, to sound from. 

The foolishest dolts are the grpund-plot of the 
most wit, as the idlest rogues p,re of the most 
industry. Even thou hast brought wit down 
from Oxford. And before a thief is hanged, 
parliament must make laws, attorneys must 
engross them, printers stamp and publish them, 
hawkers cry them, judges expound them, juries 


weigh and measure them with offences, then 
executioners carry them into effect. The farmer 
hath already sown the hemp, the ropemaker 
hath twisted it; sawyers saw the timber, car- 
penters tack together the shell, grave-diggers 
delve the earth. And all this truly for fellows 
like unto thee !" 


" Whom a God came down from heaven to 
save !'* 


" Silas ! he hangeth not. William ! I must 
have the heads of the sermon, six or seven of 
'em : thou hast whetted my appetite keenly. 
How ! dost duck thy pate into thy hat ? nay, 
nay, that is proper and becoming at church ; 
we need not such solemnity. Repeat unto us 
the setting forth at Saint Mary's." 

Whereupon did William Shakspeare entreat 
of Master Silas that he would help him in his 
ghostly endeavours, by repeating what he called 
the preliminary prayer; which prayer I find 


no where in our ritual, and do suppose it to 
be one of those Latin supplications used in our 
learned universities now or erewhile. 

I am afeard it hath not the approbation of 
the strictly orthodox, for inasmuch as Master 
Silas at such entreaty did close his teeth 
against it, and with teeth thus closed did say, 
Athanasius-wise, " Go and be damned !" 

Bill was not disheartened, but said he hoped 
better, and began thus : — 

" • My brethren !' said the preacher, ' or 
rather let me call you my children, such is my 
age confronted with yours, for the most part, — 
my children, then, and my brethren, (for here 
are both,) believe me, killing is forbidden.' " 


" This, not being delivered unto us from 
the pulpit by the preacher himself, we may look 
into. Sensible man! shrewd reasoner! what 
a stroke against deer-stealers ! how full of truth 
and ruth ! Excellent discourse !" 



" The last part was the best." 


" I always find it so. The softest of the 
cheesecake is left in the platter when the crust 
is eaten. He kept the best bit for the last, 
then? He pushed it under the salt, eh? He 
told thee " 


" Exactly so." 


" What was it r 


" ' Ye shall not kill.' 


" How ! did he run in a circle like a hare ? 
One of his mettle should break cover and off 
across the country, like a fox or hart." 


** * And yet ye kill time when ye can, and 
are uneasy when ye cannot.' 


Whereupon did Sir Thomas say aside unto 
himself, but within my hearing, 

" Faith and troth ! he must have had a 
head in at the window here one day or other." 


*' ' This sin cryeth unto the Lord.* 


*' He was wrong there. It is not one of 
those that cry : mortal sins cry. Surely he 
could not have fallen into such an error ! it 
must be thine : thou misunderstoodest him." 


" Mayhap, sir ! A great heaviness came 
over me : I was oppressed in spirit, and did 
feel as one awakening from a dream." 


" Godlier men than thou art do often feel 
the right hand of the Lord upon their heads 
in like manner. It followeth contrition, and 
precedeth conversion. Continue." 


" * My brethren and children,' said the 


teacher, ' whenever ye want to kill time call 
God to the chase, and bid the angels blow the 
horn ; and thus ye are sure to kill time to your 
heart's content. And ye may feast another 
day, and another after that. . .* " 

Then said Master Silas unto me, concernedly, 

*' This is the mischief-fullest of all the devil's 
imps, to talk in such wise at a quarter past 
twelve !'' 

But William went straight on, not hearing 

" ' Upon what ye shall in such pursuit have 
brought home with you. Whereas, if ye go 
alone, or two or three together, nay, even if ye 
go in thick and gallant company, and yet pro- 
vide not that these be with ye, my word for it, 
and a powerfuller word than mine, ye shall 
return to your supper tired and jaded, and 
rest little when ye want to rest most.* " 

'' Hast no other head of the Doctor's ?" 
quoth Sir Thomas. 

" Verily none," replied Willy, ** of the 



morning's discourse, saving the last words of it, 
which, with God's help, I shall always re- 

" Give us them, give us them," said Sir 

*' He wants doctrine ; he wants authority ; 
his are grains of millet ; grains for unfledged 
doves ; but they are sound, except the crying. 

" Deliver unto us the last words; for the 
last of the preacher, as of the hanged, are 
usually the best." 

Then did William repeat the concluding 
words of the discourse, being these : 

'' * As years are running past us, let us throw 
something on them which they cannot shake 
off in the dust and hurry of the world, but 
must carry with them to that great year of all, 
whereunto the lesser of this mortal life do tend 
and are subservient.' " 

Sir Thomas, after a pause, and after having 
bent his knee under the table, as though there 
had been the church-cushion, said unto us, 


" Here he spake through a glass, darkly, 
as blessed Paul hath it." 

Then turning towards Willy, 

" And nothing more ?" 

'^ Nothing but the glory" quoth Willy ; 
" at which there is alway such a clatter of 
feet upon the floor, and creaking of benches, 
and rustling of gowns, and bustle of bonnets, 
and justle of cushions, and dust of mats, and 
treading of toes, and punching of elbows, from 
the spitefuUer, that one wishes to be fairly out 
of it, after the scramble for the peace of God 
is at an end." 

Sir Thomas threw himself back upon his 
arm-chair, and exclaimed in wonderment, 


"... And in the midst of the service again, 
were it possible. For nothing is painfuller than 
to have the pail shaken off the head when it is 
brim-full of the waters of life, and we are 
walking staidly under it." 



** Had the learned Doctor preached again 
in the evening, pursuing the thread of his dis- 
course, he might, peradventure, have made up 
the deficiences I find in him." 


'* He had not that opportunity." 


" The more's the pity." 


" The evening admonition, delivered by 
him unto the household " 


*' What ! and did he indeed shew wind 
enough for that? Prithee out with it, if thou 
didst put it into thy tablets." 


" Alack, sir ! there were so many Latin 
words, I fear me I should be at fault in such 



" Fear not ; we can help thee out between 
us, were there a dozen or a score." 


" Bating those latinities, I do verily think 
I could tie up again most of the points in his 


*' At him then ! What was his bearing?*' 


" In dividing his matter, he spooned out 
and apportioned the commons in his discourse, 
as best suited the quality, capacity, and con- 
stitution of his hearers. To those in priests' 
orders he delivered a sort of catechism." 


" He catechise grown men ! He catechise 
men in priests' orders ! being no bishop, noi: 
bishop's ordinary!" 


*' He did so ; it may be at his peril." 



" And what else ? for catechisms are baby's 


" He did not catechise, but he admonished, 
the richer gentlemen with gold tassels for their 


" I thought as much. It was no better 
in my time. Admonitions fell gently upon 
those gold tassels ; and they ripened degrees 
as glass and sunshine ripen cucumbers. We 
priests, forsooth, are catechised! The worst 
question to any gold tasseller is, * How do you 
do?' Old Alma Mater coaxes and would be 
coaxed. But let her look sharp, or spectacles 
may be thrust upon her nose that shall make 
her eyes water. Aristotle could make out no 
royal road to wisdom ; but this old woman of 
ours will shew you one, an you tip her. 

" Tilley valley!* catechise priests, indeed I" 

* Tilley valley was the favourite adjuration of James 
the Second. It appears in the comedies of Shakspeare. 



" Peradventure he did it discreetly. Let 
us examine and judge him. Repeat thou 
what he said unto them." 


'^ * Many/ said he, * are ingenuous, many 
are devout, some timidly, some strenuously, 
but nearly all flinch, and rear, and kick, at the 
slightest touch, or least inquisitive suspicion of 
an unsound part in their doctrine. And yet, 
my brethren, we ought rather to flinch and feel 
sore at our own searching touch, our own 
serious inquisition into ourselves. Let us 
preachers, who are sufficiently liberal in be- 
stowing our advice upon others, inquire of 
ourselves whether the exercise of spiritual 
authority may not be sometimes too pleasant, 
tickling our breasts with a plume from Satan's 
wing, and turning our heads with that inebri- 
ating poison which he hath been seen to 
instil into the very chalice of our salvation. 


Let us ask ourselves in the closet, whether, 
after we have humbled ourselves before God 
in our prayers, we never rise beyond the due 
standard in the pulpit; whether our zeal for 
the truth be never over-heated by internal 
fires less holy; whether we never grow stiffly 
and sternly pertinacious, at the very time 
when we are reproving the obstinacy of others ; 
and whether we have not frequently so acted 
as if we believed that opposition were to be 
relaxed and borne away by self-sufficiency and 
intolerance. Believe me, the wisest of us have 
our catechism to learn ; and these, my dear 
friends, are not the only questions contained in 
it. No Christian can hate ; no Christian can 
malign : nevertheless, do we not often both 
hate and malign those unhappy men who are 
insensible to God's mercies? And I fear this 
unchristian spirit swells darkly, with all its 
venom, in the marble of our hearts, not be- 
cause our brother is insensible to these mercies, 
but because he is insensible to our faculty of 


persuasion, turning a deaf ear unto our claim 
upon his obedience, or a blind or sleepy eye 
upon the fountain of light, whereof we deem 
ourselves the sacred reservoirs. There is one 
more question at which ye will tremble when 
ye ask it in the recesses of your souls : I 
do tremble at it, yet must utter it. Whether 
we do not more warmly and erectly stand 
up for God's word because it came from our 
mouths, than because it came from his ? Learned 
and ingenious men may indeed find a solution 
and excuse for all these propositions; but the 
wise unto salvation will cry, Forgive me, 
O my God, if, called by thee to walk in thy 
way, I have not swept this dust from the 
sanctuai-y ! ' " 


" All this, methinks, is for the behoof of 
clerks and ministers." 


'' He taught them what they who teach 


others should learn and practise. Then did 
he look towards the young gentlemen of large 
fortune: and lastly his glances fell upon us 
poorer folk, whom he instructed in the duty 
we owe to our superiors." 


'' Ay, there he had a host." 


" In one part of his admonition he said, 
" ' Young gentlemen ! let not the highest of 
you who hear me this evening be led into 
the delusion, for such it is, that the founder of 
his family was originally a greater or a better 
man than the lowest here. He willed it, and 
became it. He must have stood low ; he must 
have worked hard ; and with tools, moreover, 
of his own invention and fashioning. He 
waved and whistled off ten thousand strong 
and importunate temptations; he dashed the 
dice-box from the jewelled hand of Chance, 


the cup from Pleasure's, and trod under foot 
the sorceries of each ; he ascended steadily the 
precipices of Danger, and looked down with 
intrepidity from the summit; he overawed 
arrogance with sedateness ; he seized by the 
horn and overleaped low Violence ; and he 
fairly swung Fortune round. 

" ! The very high cannot rise much higher ; 
the very low may : the truly great must have 
done it. 

" ' This is not the doctrine, my friends, of 
the silkenly and lawnly religious ; it wears 
the coarse texture of the fisherman, and walks 
uprightly and straightforward tinder it. I am 
speaking now more particularly to you amongst 
us upon whom God hath laid the incum- 
brances of wealth, the sweets whereof bring 
teazing and poisonous things about you, not 
easily sent away. What now are your pre- 
tensions under sacks of money? or your en- 
joyments under the shade of genealogical trees? 
Are they rational ? Are they real ? Do they 


exist at all ? Strange inconsistency ! to be 
proud of having as much gold and silver laid 
upon yon as a mule hath, and yet to carry it 
less composedly ! The mule is not answerable 
for the conveyance and discharge of his burden : 
you are. Stranger infatuation still! to be 
prouder of an excellent thing done by ano- 
ther than by yourselves, supposing any excellent 
thing to have actually been done ; and, after 
all, to be more elated on his cruelties than his 
kindnesses, by the blood he hath spilt than by 
the benefits he hath conferred ; and to acknow- 
ledge less obligation to a well-informed and 
well-intentioned progenitor than to a lawless 
and ferocious barbarian. Would stocks and 
stumps, if they could ntter words, utter such 
gross stupidity ? Would the apple boast of his 
crab origin, or the peach of his prune? 
Hardly any man is ashamed of being inferior 
to his ancestors, although it is the very thing 
at which the great should blush, if, indeed, the 
great in general descended from the worthy. 


I did expect to see the day, and although I 
shall not see it, it must come at last, when 
he shall be treated as a madman or an im- 
postor who dares to claim nobility or prece- 
dency, and cannot shew his family name in the 
history of his country. Even he who can shew 
it, and who cannot write his own under it in 
the same or as goodly characters, must submit 
to the imputation of degeneracy, from which 
the lowly and obscure are exempt. 

" * He alone who maketh you wiser, maketh 
you greater; and it is only by such an im- 
plement that Almighty God himself effects it. 
When he taketh away a man's wisdom, he 
taketh away his strength, his power over others 
and over himself. What help for him, then ! 
He may sit idly and swell his spleen, saying — 
Who is this? who is that? and at the ques- 
tion's end the spirit of inquiry dies away in 
him. It would not have been so, if, in happier 
hour, he had said within himself — Who am I? 


what am I? and had prosecuted the search in 
good earnest. 

" ' When we ask who this man is, or who 
that man is, we do not expect or hope for a 
plain answer : we should be disappointed at a 
direct, or a rational, or a kind one. We desire 
to hear that he was of low origin, or had 
committed some crime, or been subjected to 
some calamity. Whoever he be, in general we 
disregard or despise him, unless we discover 
that he possesseth by nature many qualities 
of mind and body which he never brings into 
use, and many accessories of situation and 
fortune which he brings into abuse every day. 
According to the arithmetic in practice, he 
who makes the most idlers and the most in- 
grates is the most worshipful. But wiser ones 
than the scorers in this school will tell you- 
how riches and power were bestowed by Pro- 
vidence, that generosity and mercy should be 
exercised : for, if every gift of the Almighty 


were distributed in equal portions to every 
creature, less of such virtues would be called 
into the field ; consequently there would be 
less of gratitude, less of submission, less of 
devotion, less of hope, and, in the total, less of 
content.' " 

Here he ceased, and Sir Thomas nodded, 
and said — 

" Reasonable enough ! nay, almost too rea- 
sonable ! 

" But where are the apostles? Where are 
the disciples ? Where are the saints ? Where 
is hell-fire ? 

" Well ! patience ! we may come to it yet. 
Go on, Will !" 

With such encouragement before him, did 
Will Shakspeare take breath and continue : 

" ' We mortals are too much accustomed to 
behold our superiors in rank and station as we 
behold the leaves in the forest. While we 
stand under these leaves, our protection and 
refuge from heat and labour, we see only the 


rougher side of them, and the gloominess of 
the branches on which they hang. In the 
midst of their benefits we are insensible to 
their utility and their beauty, and appear to 
be ignorant that, if they were placed less high 
above us, we should derive from them less 
advantage.' " 


*' Ay ; envy of superiority made the angels 
kick and run restive." 


** May it please your worship ! with all 
my faults, I have ever borne submission and 
reverence toward my superiors." 


** Very right! very scriptural! But most 
folks do that. Our duty is not fulfilled unless 
we bear absolute veneration ; unless we are 
ready to lay down our lives and fortunes at 
the foot of the throne, and every thing else at 
the foot of those who administer the laws under 
virgin majesty.*' 



" Honoured sir ! I am quite ready to lay 
down my life and fortune, and all the rest of 
me, before that great virgin." 


" Thy life and fortune, to wit !. 
"What are they worth? A June cob-nut, 
maggot and all. " 


'* Silas! we will not repudiate nor rebuff 
this Magdalen, that bringeth a pot of ointment. 
Rather let us teach and tutor than twit. It is 
a tractable and conducible youth, being in 
good company." 


" Teach and tutor ! Hold hard, sir ! These 
base varlets ought to be taught but two things : 
to bow as beseemeth them to their betters, and 
to hang perpendicular. We have authority for 
it, that no man can add an inch to his stature , 
but, by aid of the sheriff, I engage to find 


a chap who shall add two or three to this 
whoreson's." "^ 


" Nay, nay, now, Silas ! the lad's mother 
was always held to be an honest woman." 


" His mother may he an honest woman for 


'* No small privilege, by my faith ! for any 
woman in the next parish to thee, Master 


" There again ! out comes the filthy runlet 

*^ Whoreson, if we may hazard a conjecture, means the 
son of a woman of ill-repute. In this we are borne out by 
the context. It appears to have escaped the commentators 
on Shakspeare. 

Whoreson, a word of frequent occurrence in the come- 
dies ; more rarely found in the tragedies. Although now 
obsolete, the expression proves that there were (or were be- 
lieved to be) such persons formerly. 

The Editor is -indebted to two learned friends for these 
two remarks, which appear no less just than ingenious. 


from the quagmire, that but now lay so quiet 
with all its own in it." 


" Until it was trodden on by the ass that 
could not leap over it. These, I think, are the 
words of the fable." 


" They are so/' 


"What fable?" 


" Tush ! don't press him too hard : he 
wants not wit, but learning." 


*' He wants a rope's-end ; and a rope's-end 
is not enough for him, unless we throw in the 


" Peradventure he may be an instrument, 
a potter's clay, a type, a token. 

" I have seen many young men, and none 


like unto him. He is shallow but clear; he 
is simple, but ingenuous." 


" Drag the ford again, then. In my mind 
he is as deep as the big tankard ; and a 
mouthful of rough beverage will be the begin- 
ning and end of it.'* 


" No fear of that. Neither, if rightly re- 
ported by the youngster, is there so much doc- 
trine in the doctor as we expected. He doth 
not dwell upon the main ; he is worldly ; he 
is wise in his generation ; he says things out 
of his own head. 

<« Silas, that can't hold ! We want props — 
fulcrums, I think you called 'em, ^to the far- 
mers; or was it stimulums?" 


*< Both very good words." 


" I should be mightily pleased to hear thee 
dispute with that great don." 



" I hate disputations. Saint Paul warns us 
against them. If one wants to be thirsty, the 
tail of a stockfish is as good for it as the head 
of a logician. 

" The doctor there, at Oxford, is in flesh 
and mettle : but let him be sleek and gin- 
gered as he may, clap me in Saint Mary's 
pulpit, cassock me, lamb-skin me, give me 
pink for my colours, glove me to the elbow, 
heel-piece me half an ell high, cushion me 
before and behind, bring me a mug of mild 
ale and a rasher of bacon, only just to con over 
the text withal ; then allow me fair play, and 
as much of my own way as he had, and the 
devil take the hindermost. I am his man at 
any time." 


'* I am fain to believe it. Verily, I do 
think, Silas, thou hast as much stuff in thee 
as most men. Our beef and mutton at Charle- 
cote rear other than babes and sucklings. 


" I like words taken, like thine, from 
black-letter books. They look stiff and ster- 
ling, and as though a man might dig about 
'em for a week, and never loosen the lightest. 

'* Thou hast alway at hand either saint 
or devil, as occasion needeth, according to the 
quality of the sinner, and they never come 
uncalled for. Moreover, Master Silas, I have 
observed that thy hell-fire is generally lighted 
up in the pulpit about the dog-days." 

Then turned the worthy knight unto the 
youth, saying, 

** Twere well for thee, William Shak- 
speare, if the learned doctor had kept thee 
longer in his house, and had shewn unto thee 
the danger of idleness, which hath often led 
unto deer-stealing and poetry. In thee we 
already know the one, although the distemper 
hath eaten but skin-deep for the present ,* and 
we have the testimony of two burgesses on the 
other. The pursuit of poetry, as likewise of 
game, is unforbidden to persons of condition." 



'* Sir, that of game is the more likely to 
keep them in it." 


" It is the more knightly of the two; but 
poetry hath also her pursuers among us. I 
myself, in my youth, had some experience that 
way ; and I am fain to blush at the reputation 
I obtained. His honour, my father, took me 
to London at the age of twenty; and, sparing 
no expense in my education, gave fifty shillings 
to one Monsieur Dubois to teach me fencing 
and poetry, in twenty lessons. In vacant hours 
he taught us also the laws of honour, which 
are different from ours. 

'' In France you are unpolite, unless you 
solicit a judge or his wife to favour your cause, 
and you inevitably lose it. In France there is 
no want of honour where there is no want of 
courage : you may lie, but you must not hear 
that you lie. I asked him what he thought 
then of lying ; and he replied, 


" ' C'est selon: 

" And suppose you should overhear the 
whisper ? 

" * ^^ parhleuj Cela mirrite ; cela me 
pousse au houtJ' 

" I was going on to remark that a real 
man of honour could less bear to lie than to 
hear it ; when he cried, at the words real man 
of honour, 

" ^ Ze voilttj Monsieur / le voila /' and gave 
himself such a blow on the breast as convinced 
me the French are a brave people. 

" He told us that nothing but his honour 
was left him, but that it supplied the place of 
all he had lost. It was discovered some time 
afterwards that M. Dubois had been guilty of 
perjury, had been a spy, and had lost nothing 
but a dozen or two of tin patty-pans, hereditary 
in his family, his father having been a cook 
on his own account. 

" William, it is well at thy time of life 
that thou shouldst know the customs of far 


countries, particularly if it should be the will 
of God to place thee in a company of players. 
Of all nations in the world, the French best 
understand the stage. If thou shouldst ever 
write for it, which God forbid, copy them very 
carefully. Murders on their stage are quite 
decorous and cleanly. For gentlemen and 
ladies die by violence who would not have 
died by exhaustion. ' For they rant and rave 
until their voice fails them, one after another ; 
and those who do not die of it, die consumptive. 
These cannot bear to see cruelty : they would 
rather see any image than their own.' These 
are not my observations, but were made by 
Sir Everard Starkeye, who likewise did re- 
mark to Monsieur Dubois, that ' cats, if you 
hold them up to the looking-glass, will scratch 
you terribly ; and that the same fierce animal, 
as if proud of its cleanly coat and its velvety 
paw, doth carefully put aside what other 
animals of more estimation take no trouble 
to conceal/ 



" ' Our people,' said Sir Everard, ' must 
see upon the stage what they never could have 
imagined ; so the best men in the world would 
earnestly take a peep of hell through a chink, 
whereas the worser would skulk away.' 

" Do not thou be their caterer William ! 

Avoid the writing of comedies and tragedies. 

To make people laugh is uncivil, and to make 

people cry is unkind. And what, after all, are 

these comedies and these tragedies ? They are 

what, for the benefit of all future generations, 

I have myself described them, 

* The whimsies of wantons and stories of dread, 
That make the stout-hearted look under the bed.' 

Furthermore, let me warn thee against the 
same on account of the vast charges thou must 
stand at. We Englishmen cannot find it in 
our hearts to murder a man without much 
difficulty, hesitation, and delay. We have 
little or no invention for pains and penalties ; 
it is only our acutest lawyers who have wit 
enough to frame them. Therefore it behoveth 


your tragedy-man to provide a rich assortment 
of them, in order to strike the auditor with awe 
and wonder. And a tragedy-man, in our 
country, who cannot afford a fair dozen of 
stabbed males, and a trifle under that mask of 
poisoned females, and chains enow to moor a 
whole navy in dock, is but a scurvy fellow at 
the best. Thou wilt find trouble in purveying 
these necessaries ; and then must come the 
gim-cracks for the second course; gods, god- 
desses, fates, furies, battles, marriages, music, 
and the maypole. Hast thou within thee 
wherewithal V 

" Sir!" replied Billy, with great modesty, 
*' I am most grateful for these ripe fruits of 
your experience. To admit delightful visions 
into my own twilight chamber, is not danger- 
ous nor forbidden. Believe me, sir, he who 
indulges in them will abstain from injuring 
his neighbour: he will see no glory in peril, 
and no delight in strife. 

" The world shall never be troubled by any 


battles and marriages of mine, and I desire no 
other music and no other maypole than have 
lightened my heart at Stratford." 

Sir Thomas finding him well-conditioned 
and manageable, proceeded ; 

" Although I have admonished thee of 
sundry and insurmountable impediments, yet 
more are lying in the pathway. We have no 
verse for tragedy. One in his hurry hath 
dropped rhyme, and walketh like unto the 
man who wanteth the left-leg stocking. Others 
can give us rhyme indeed, but can hold no 
longer after the tenth or eleventh syllable. 
Now Sir Everard Starkeye, who is a pretty 
poet, did confess to Monsieur Dubois the po- 
tency of the French tragic verse, which thou 
never canst hope to bring over. 

" * I wonder, Monsieur Dubois !' said Sir 
Everard, ' that your countrymen should have 
thought it necessary to transport their heavy 
artillery into Italy. No Italian could stand a 
volley of your heroic verses from the best and 


biggest pieces. With these brought into action, 
you never could have lost the battle of Pavia.' 

" Now my friend Sir Everard is not quite 
so good a historian as he is a poet : and Mon- 
sieur Dubois took advantage of him. 

" * Pardon ! Monsieur Sir Everard !' said 
Monsieur Dubois, smiling at my friend's slip, 
' we did not lose the battle of Pavia. We 
had the misfortune to lose our king, who de- 
livered himself up, as our kings always do, 
for the good and glory of his country.* 

" ' How was this?' said Sir Everard, in 

" ' I will tell you, Monsieur Sir Everard !' 
said Monsieur Dubois. ' I had it from my 
own father, who fought in the battle, and told 
my mother, word for word : 

" ' The king seeing his household troops, 
being only one thousand strong, surrounded 
by twelve regiments, the best Spanish troops, 
amounting to eighteen thousand four hundred 
and forty-two, although he doubted not of vie- 


tory, yet thought he might lose many brave 
men before the close of the day, and rode up 
instantly to King Charles, and said, 

" ' My brother ! I am loath to lose so many 
of those brave men yonder. Whistle off your 
Spanish pointers, and I agree to ride home 
with you.' 

'' * And so he did. But what did King 
Charles ? abusing French loyalty, he made our 
Francis his prisoner, would you believe it ? and 
treated him worse than ever badger was treated 
at the bottom of any paltry stable-yard, putting 
upon his table beer and Rhenish wine and wild 

'* I have digressed with thee, young man," 
continued the knight, much to the improve- 
ment of my knowledge, I do reverentially con- 
fess, as it was of the lad's. " We will now," 
said he, " endeavour our best to sober thee, 
finding that Doctor Glaston hath omitted it." 

'* Not entirely omitted it," said William, 
gratefully ; "he did towards it, after dinner, all 


that could be done at such a time towards it. 
The doctor could, however, speak only of the 
Greeks and Romans, and certainly what he 
said of them gave me but little encourage- 


" What said he?" 


" He said, * the Greeks conveyed all their 
wisdom into their theatre; th«ir stages were 
churches and parliament-houses ; but what was 
false prevailed over what was true. They had 
their own wisdom; the wisdom of the foolish. 
Who is Sophocles, if compared to Doctor Ham- 
mersley of Oriel ? or Euripides, if compared to 
Doctor Prichard of Jesus? Without the Gos- 
pel, light is darkness ; and with it, children are 

" * William, I need not expatiate on Greek 
with thee, since thou knowest it not, but some 
crumbs of Latin are picked up by the callowest 
beaks. The Romans had, as thou findest, and 


have still, more taste for murder than morality, 
and, as they could not find heroes among them, 
looked for gladiators. Their only very high 
poet employed his elevation and strength to 
dethrone and debase the Deity. They had 
several others, who polished their language 
and pitched their instruments with admirable 
skill: several who glared over their thin and 
flimsy gaberdines many bright feathers from 
the wide-spread downs of Ionia, and the richly 
cultivated rocks of Attica. 

*' * Some of them have spoken from inspira- 
tion : for thou art not to suppose that from the 
heathen were withheld all the manifestations 
of the Lord. We do agree at Oxford that the 
Pollio of Virgil is our Saviour. True, it is the 
dullest and poorest poem that a nation not very 
poetical has bequeathed unto us ; and even the 
versification, in which this master excelled, is 
wanting in fluency and sweetness. I can only 
account for this from the weight of the subject. 
Two verses, which are fairly worth two hun- 


dred such poems, are from another pagan : he 
was forced to sigh for the church without know- 
ing her : he saith, 

* May I gaze upon thee when my latest hour is come ! 
May I hold thy hand when mine faileth me !' 

This, if adumbrating the church, is the most 
beautiful thought that ever issued from the 
heart of man : but if addressed to a wanton, as 
some do opine, is filth from the sink, nauseat- 
ing and insufferable. 

'* ' William ! that which moveth the heart 
most is the best poetry ; it comes nearest unto 
God, the source of all power.' " 


'' ' Yea ; and he appeareth unto me to know 
more of poetry than of divinity. Those an- 
cients have little flesh upon the body poetical, 
and lack the savour that sufficeth. The Song 
of Solomon drowns all their voices : they seem 
but whistlers and guitar-players compared to 
a full-cheeked trumpeter ; they standing under 
the eaves in some dark lane, he upon a well- 


caparisoned stallion, tossing his mane and all 
his ribands to the sun. I doubt the doctor 
spake too fondly of the Greeks; they were 
giddy creatures. William! I am loath to be 
hard on them ; but they please me not. There 
are those now living who could make them 
bite their nails to the quick, and turn green 
as grass with envy." 


" Sir, one of those Greeks, methinks, 
thrown into the pickle-pot, would be a treasure 
to the housewife's young jerkins." 


** Simpleton! simpleton! but thou vainest 
them justly. — Now attend. If ever thou 
shouldst hear, at Oxford or London, the verses 
I am about to repeat, prythee do not com- 
municate them to that fiery spirit Mat At- 
terend. It might not be the battle of two 
hundreds, but two counties ; a sort of York 
and Lancaster war, whereof I would wash my 
hands. Listen ! " 


And now did Sir Thomas clear his voice, 
always high and sonorous, and did repeat from 
the stores of his memory these rich and proud 

" * Chloe ! mean raeii must ever make mean loves, 
They deal in dog-roses, but I in cloves. 
They ar« just seorch'd enough to blaw their fingers, 
I am a phoenix downright burnt to cinders.'^ 

At which noble conceits, so far above what 
poor Bill had ever imagined, he lifted up his 
eyes to heaven, and exclaimed, 

" The world itself must be reduced to that 
condition before such glorious verses die ! 
Chloe and Clove \ Why, sir! Chloe wants but 
a V towards the tail to become the very thing ! 
Never tell me that such matters can come 
about of themselves. And how truly is it said 
that we mean men deal in dog-roses ! 

" Sir, if it were permitted me to swear on 
that holy Bible, I would swear I never until this 
day heard that dog-roses were our provender ; 
and yet did I, no longer ago than last summer, 


write, not indeed upon a dog-rose, but upon a 
sweet-briar, what would only serve to rince 
the mouth withal after the clove." 


" Repeat the same, youth! We may haply 
give thee our counsel thereupon." 

Willy took heart, and, lowering his voice, 
which hath much natural mellowness, repeated 
these from memory : 

" My briar that smelledst sweet 
When gentle spring's first heat 

Ran through thy quiet veins ; 
Thou that couldst injure none, 
But would St be left alone, 
Alone thou leavest me, and nought of thine remains. 

" What ! hath no poet's lyre 
O'er thee, sweet-breathing bxiar. 

Hung fondly, ill or well ? 
And yet methinks with thee 
A poet's sympathy, 
Whether in weal or woe, in life or death, might dwell. 

" Hard usage both must bear. 
Few hands your youth will rear. 
Few bosoms cherish you ; 


Your tender prime must bleed 
Ere you are sweet, but freed 
From life, you then are prized ; thus prized are poets too." 

Sir Thomas said, with kind encouragement, 
" He who beginneth so discreetly with a dog- 
rose, may hope to encompass a damask-rose 
ere he die." 

Willy did now breathe freely. The com- 
mendation of a knight and magistrate worked 
powerfully within him : and Sir Thomas said 

" These short matters do not suit me. Thou 
mightest have added some moral about life and 
beauty : poets never handle roses without one ; 
but thou art young, and may est get into the 

Willy made the best excuse he could ; and 
no bad one it was, the knight acknowledged ; 
namely, that the sweet-briar was not really dead 
although left for dead. 

'* Then," said Sir Thomas, " as life and 
beauty would not serve thy turn, thou mightest 


have had full enjoyment of the beggar, the 
wayside, the thieves, and the good Samaritan, — 
enough to tapestry the bridal chamber of an 

William bowed respectfully, and sighed. 

'^ Ha ! thou hast lost them, sure enough, 
and it may not be quite so fair to smile at thy 
quandary," quoth Sir Thomas. 

" I did my best the first time," said Willy, 
** and fell short the second." 

*' That indeed thou must have done," said 
Sir Thomas. " It is a grievous disappoint- 
ment, in the midst of our lamentations for the 
dead, to find ourselves balked. I am curious 
to see how thou couldst help thyself. Don't 
be abashed ; I am ready for even worse than 
the last." 

Bill hesitated, but obeyed : 

" And art thou yet alive ? 
And shall the happy hive 

Send out her youth to cull 
Thy sweets of leaf and flower, 


And spend the sunny hour 
With thee, and thy faint heart with murmuring music lull ? 

" Tell me what tender care, 
Tell me what pious prayer, 

Bade thee arise and live ? 
The fondest-favoured bee 
Shall whisper nought to thee 
More loving than the song my grateful muse shall give." 

Sir Thomas looked somewhat less pleased 
at the conclusion of these verses than at the 
conclusion of the former; and said gravely, 

" Young man ! methinks it is hetimes that 
thou talkest of having a muse to thyself; or 
even in common with others. It is only great 
poets who have muses; I mean to say, who 
have the right to talk in that fashion. The 
French, I hear, Phcebus it and muse-me it right 
and left; and boggle not to throw all nine, 
together with mother and master, into the com- 
pass of a dozen lines or thereabout. And your 
Italian can hardly do without *em in the mul- 
tiplication-table. We Englishmen do let them 
in quietly, shut the door, and say nothing of 


what passes. I have read a whole book of 
comedies, and ne'er a muse to help the lamest/' 


" Wonderful forbearance! I marvel how 
the poet could get through." 


*' By God's help. And I think we did as 
well without 'em : for it must be an unabash- 
able man that ever shook his sides in their 
company. They lay heavy restraint both upon 
laughing and crying. In the great master 
Virgil of Rome, they tell me they come in to 
count the ships, and having cast up the sum 
total, and proved it, make off again. Sure 
token of two things: first, that he held 'em 
dog-cheap ; secondly, that he had made but 
little progress (for a Lombard born) in book- 
keeping in double entry. 

"He, and every other great genius, began 
with small subject-matters, gnats and the like. 
I myself, similar unto him, wrote upon fruit. 
I would give thee some copies for thy copying, 


if I thought thou wouldst use them temperately, 
and not render them common, as hath befallen 
the poetry of some among the brightest ge- 
niuses. I could shew thee how to say new 
things, and how to time the same. Before my 
day, nearly all the flowers and fruits had been 
gathered by poets, old and young, from the 
cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop on the wall: 
roses went up to Solomon, apples to Adam, 
and so forth. 

"Willy! my brave lad! I was the firs; 
that ever handled a quince, Til be sworn. 

** Hearken ! 

" Chloe ! I would not have thee wince, 
That I unto thee send a quince. 
I would not have thee say unto't 
Begone ! and trample't underfoot, 
For, trust me, 'tis no fulsome fruit. 
It came not out of mine own garden, 
* But all the way from Henly in Arden, — 
Of an uncommon fine old tree. 
Belonging to John Apsbury. 
And if that of it thou shalt eat, 
'Twill make thy breath e'en yet more sweet; 


As a translation here doth shew, 
On fruit-trees f by Jean Miraheau. 
The frontispiece is printed so. 
But eat it with some wine and cake, 
Or it may give the bellj-ake.* 
This doth my worthy clerk indite, 
I sign, 

Sib Thomas Lucy, Knight." 

" Now, Willy, there is not one poet or 
lover in twenty who careth for consequences. 
Many hint to the lady what to do ,* few what 
not to do ; although it would oftentimes, as in 
this case, go to one's heart to see the upshot." 

'' Ah, sir !" said Bill, in all humility, " I 
would make bold to put the parings of that 
quince under my pillow, for sweet dreams 
and insights, if Doctor Glaston had given me 
encouragement to continue the pursuit of 

• Belly-akef more properly spelt belly-ache, a disorder 
once not uncommon in England. Even the name is now 
almost forgotten; yet the elder of us may rememlDer at 
least the report of it, and some, perhaps, even the com- 
plaint itself, in our schooldays. It usually broke out about 
the cherry season ; and, in some cases, made its appearance 
again at the first nutting. 


poetry. Of a surety it would bless me with 
a bedful of churches and crucifixions, duly 

Whereat Sir Thomas, shaking his head, 
did inform him, 

** It was in the golden age of the world, 
as pagans call it, that poets of condition sent 
fruits and flowers to their beloved, with posies 
fairly penned. We, in our days, have done 
the like. But manners of late are much cor- 
rupted on the one side, if not on both. 

" Willy ! it hath been whispered that there 
be those who would rather have a piece of 
brocade or velvet for a stomacher, than the 
touchingest copy of verses, with a bleeding 
heart at the bottom." 




** Tis even so 1" 


" They must surely be rotten fragments 


of the world before the flood, — saved out of it 
by the devil." 


" I am not of that mind. 

" Their eyes, mayhap, fell upon some of 
the bravery cast ashore from the Spanish Ar- 
mada. In ancienter days, a few pages of good 
poetry outvalued a whole ell of the finest 


" When will such days return ! " 


'* It is only within these few years that cor- 
ruption and avarice have made such ghastly 
strides. They always did exist, but were 

" My youth is waning, and has been nigh 
upon these seven years, I being now in my 
forty- eighth." 


** I have understood that the god of poetry 


is in the enjoyment of eternal youth; I was 
ignorant that his sons were." 


" No, child ! we are hale and comely, 
but must go the way of all flesh." 


*' Must it, can it, be?" 


" Time was, my smallest gifts were accept- 
able, as thus recorded : — 

" From my fair hand, O will ye, will ye 
Deign humbly to accept a gilly- 

Flower for thy bosom, sugared maid ! 

" Scarce had I said it, ere she took it. 
And in a twinkling, faith ! had stuck it, 

Where e'en proud knighthood might have laid." 

William was now quite unable to contain 
himself, and seemed utterly to have forgotten 
the grievous charge against him ; to such a 
pitch did his joy o'erleap his jeopardy. 

Master Silas in the meantime was much 
disquietei; and first did he strip away all 


the white feather from every pen in the ink- 
pot, and then did he mend them, one and all, 
and then did he slit them with his thumb- 
nail, and then did he pare and slash away 
at them again, and then did he cut off the 
tops, until at last he left upon them neither 
nib nor plume, nor enough of the middle 
to serve as quill to a virginal. It went to 
my heart to see such a power of pens so 
wasted : there could not be fewer than five. 
Sir Thomas was less wary than usual, being 
overjoyed. For great poets do mightily affect 
to have little poets under them; and little 
poets do forget themselves in great company, 
as fiddlers do, who kail fellow well met! even 
with lords. 

Sir Thomas did not interrupt our Bill's 
wild gladness. I never thought so worshipful 
a personage could bear so much. At last he 
said unto the lad : 

" I do bethink me, if thou hearest much 
more of my poetry, and the success attendant 


thereon, good Doctor Glaston would tear thy 
skirt off, ere he could drag thee back from the 


" I fear me, for once, all his wisdom would 
sluice out in vain." 


" It was reported to me, that when our 
virgin queen's highness (her Dear Dread's* ear 
not being then poisoned) heard these verses, 
she said before her courtiers, to the sore travail 
of some, and heart's content of others, — 

'* * We need not envy our young cousin 
James of Scotland his ass's bite of a thistle, 
having such flowers as these gilliflowers on the 
chimney-stacks of Charlecote.' 

*' I could have told her highness that all 
this poetry, from beginning to end, was real 
matter of fact, well and truly spoken by mine 

* Sir Thomas borrowed this expression from Spenser, 
who thus calls Queen Elizabeth. 


own self. I had only to harness the rhymes 
thereunto, at my leisure." 


" None could ever doubt it. Greeks and 
Trojans may fight for the quince ; neither shall 

have it 

While a Warwickshire lad 
Is on earth to be had, 
With a wand to wag 
On a trusty nag, 
He shall keep the lists 
: With cudgel or fists. 

And black shall be whose eye 
Looks evil on Lucy." 


" Nay, nay, nay! do not trespass too soon 
upon heroics. Thou seest thou canst not hold 
thy wind beyond eight lines. What wouldst 
thou do under the heavy mettle that should 
have wrought such wonders at Pavia, if thou 
findest these petards so troublesome in dis- 
charging? Surely, the good doctor, had he 
entered at large on the subject, would have 


been very particular in urging this expostu- 


'* Sir, to my mortification I must confess, 
that I took to myself the counsel he was giving 
to another ; a young gentleman who, from his 
pale face, his abstinence at table, his cough, his 
taciturnity, and his gentleness, seemed already 
more than half poet. To him did Doctor 
Glaston urge, with all his zeal and judgment, 
many arguments against the vocation ; tell- 
ing him that, even in college, he had few 
applaud ers, being the first, and not the second 
or third, who always are more fortunate ; re- 
minding him that he must solicit and obtain 
much interest with men of rank and quality, 
before he could expect their favour ; and that 
without it the vein chilled, the nerve* relaxed, 
and the poet was left at next door to the bell- 
man. * In the coldness of the world,' said he, 
* in the absence of ready friends and adhe- 
rents, to light thee upstairs to the richly tapes- 



tried chamber of the muses, thy spirits will 
abandon thee, thy heart will sicken and swell 
within thee; overladen, thou wilt make, O 
Ethelbert ! a slow and painful progress, and, 
ere the door open, sink. Praise giveth weight 
unto the wanting, and happiness giveth elas- 
ticity unto the heavy. As the mightier streams 
of the unexplored world, America, run lan- 
guidly in the night,"^ and await the sun on high 
to contend with him in strength and grandeur, 
so doth genius halt and pause in the thraldom 
of outspread darkness, and move onward with 
all his vigour then only when creative light 
and jubilant warmth surround him.' 

" Ethelbert coughed faintly ; a tinge of 
red, the size of a rose-bud, coloured the middle 
of his cheek ; and yet he seemed not to be 
pained by the reproof. He looked fondly and 
affectionately at his teacher, who thus pro- 
ceeded : 

" ' My dear youth, do not carry the stone 

* Humboldt notices this. 


of Sisyphus on thy shoulder to pave the way 
to disappointment. If thou writest but indif- 
ferent poetry, none will envy thee and some 
will praise thee : but nature, in her malignity, 
hath denied unto thee a capacity for the enjoy- 
ment of such praise. In this she hath been 
kinder to most others than to thee : we know 
wherein she hath been kinder to thee than to 
most others. If thou writest good poetry, 
many will call it flat, many will call it obscure, 
many will call it inharmonious ; and some of 
these will speak as they think ; for, as in 
giving a feast to great numbers, it is easier 
to possess the wine than to procure the cups, 
so happens it in poetry ; thou hast the beverage 
of thy own growth, but canst not find the 
recipients. What is simple and elegant to thee 
and me, to many an honest man is flat and 
sterile ; what to us is an innocently sly allu- 
sion, to as worthy a one as either of us is dull 
obscurity j and that moreover which swims 
upon our brain, and which throbs against our 


temples, and which we delight in sounding to 
ourselves when the voice has done with it, 
touches their ear, and awakens no harmony 
in any cell of it. Rivals will run up to thee 
and call thee a plagiary, and, rather than 
that proof should be wanting, similar words 
to some of thine will be thrown in thy teeth 
out of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. 

*^ * Do you desire calm studies? Do you 
desire high thoughts ? Penetrate into theology. 
What is nobler than to dissect and discern 
the opinions of the gravest men upon the sub- 
tilest matters ? And what glorious victories 
are those over Infidelity and Scepticism ? How 
much loftier, how much more lasting in their 
effects, than such as ye are invited unto by 
what this ingenious youth hath contemptuously 
and truly called 

" The swaggering drum, and trumpet hoarse with rage." 

And what a delightful and edifying sight it is, 
to see hundreds of the most able doctors, all 


stripped for the combat, each closing with his 
antagonist, and tugging and tearing, tooth and 
nail, to lay down and establish truths which 
have been floating in the air for ages, and 
which the lower order of mortals are forbidden 
to see, and commanded to embrace. And 
then the shouts of victory ! And then the 
crowns of amaranth held over their heads by 
the applauding angels. Besides, these com- 
bats have other great and distinct advantages. 
Whereas, in the carnal, the longer ye con- 
tend the more blows do ye receive ; in these 
against Satan, the more fiercely and pertina- 
ciously ye drive at him, the slacker do ye find 
him : every good hit makes him redden and 
rave with anger, but diminishes its effect. 

** * My dear friends ! who would not enter 
a service in which he may give blows to his 
mortal enemy, and receive none ; and in which 
not only the eternal gain is incalculable, but 
also the temporal, at four- and- twenty, may be 
far above the emolument of generals, who, 


before the priest was born, had bled profusely 
for his country, established her security, bright- 
ened her glory, and augmented her dominions.' *' 

At this pause did Sir Thomas turn unto 
Sir Silas, and asked, 

" What sayest thou, Silas?" 

Whereupon did Sir Silas make answer — 

'* I say it is so, and was so, and should be 
so, and shall be so. If the queen's brother had 
not sopped the priests and bishops out of the 
Catholic cup, they could have held the Catho- 
lic cup in their own hands, instead of yielding 
it into his. They earned their money : if they 
sold their consciences for it, the business is 
theirs, not ours. I call this facing the devil 
with a vengeance. We have their coats; no 
matter who made '^m; we have 'em, I say, 
and we will wear 'em ; and not a button, 
tag, or tassel, shall any man tear away." 

Sir Thomas then turned to Willy, and re- 
quested him to proceed with the doctor's dis- 
course, who thereupon continued. 


'* Within your own recollections, how 
many good, quiet, inoffensive men, unendowed 
with any extraordinary abilities, have been 
enabled, by means of divinity, to enjoy a long 
life in tranquillity and affluence.' 

" Whereupon did one of the young gentle- 
men smile, and, on small encouragement from 
Doctor Glaston to enounce the cause thereof, 
he repeated these verses, which he gave after- 
wards unto me. 

" In the names on our books 
Was standing Tom Flooke's, 
Who took in due time his degrees; 
Which when he had taken, 
Like an Ascham or Bacon, 
By night he could snore, and by day he could sneeze. 

" Calm, pithy, pragmatical,* 

Tom Flooke he could at a call 
Rise up like a hound from his sleep ; 

And if many a quarto 

He gave not his heart to, 
If pellucid in lore, in his cups he was deep. 

• Pragmatical here means only precise. 


" He never did harm, 
And his heart might be warm, 

For his doublet most certainly was so ; 
And now has Tom Tlooke 
A quieter nook 

Than ever had Spenser or Tasso. 

" He lives in his house. 

As still as a mouse, 
Until he has eaten his dinner ; 

But then doth his nose 

Outroar all the woes 
That encompass the death of a sinner. 

" And there oft has been seen 
No less than a dean 

To tarry a week in the parish. 
In October and March, 
When deans are less starch. 

And days are less gleamy and garish. 

" That Sunday Tom's eyes 
LookM always more wise, 

He repeated more often his text ; 
Two leaves stuck together, 
(The fault of the weather) 

And ...,the rest ye shall hear in my next. 

<* At mess he lost quite 
His small appetite, 
By losing his friend the good dean : 


The cook's sight must fail her ! 

The eggs sure are staler ! 
The beef too ! Why, what can it mean ? 
" He turned off the butcher, 

To the cook, could he clutch her, 
What his choler had done there's no saying . . 

Tis verily said 

He smote low the cock's head. 
And took other pullets for laying." 

*' On this being concluded, Doctor Glaston 
said he shrewdly suspected an indigestion on 
the part of Mr. Thomas Flooke, caused by 
sitting up late and studying hard with Mr. 
Dean ; and protested that theology itself should 
not carry us into the rawness of the morning 
air, particularly in such critical months as 
March and October, in one of which the sap 
rises, in the other sinks, and there are many 
stars very sinister." 

Sir Thomas shook his head, and declared 
he would not be uncharitable to rector, or 
dean, or doctor, but that certain surmises swam 
uppermost. He then winked at Master Silas, 
who said, incontinently, 

k2 . 


'' You have it, Sir Thomas ! The blind 
buzzards! with their stars and saps!" 

" Well, but Silas ! you yourself have told 
us over and over again, in church, that there 
are arcana.^' 

" So there are ; I uphold it," replied Master 
Silas, " but a fig for the greater part, and a 
fig-leaf for the rest! As for these signs, they 
are as plain as any page in the Revelations." 

Sir Thomas, after short pondering, said 

" In regard to the rawness of the air 
having any effect whatsoever on those who 
discourse orthodoxically on theology, it is 
quite as absurd as to imagine that a man 
ever caught cold in a Protestant church. I 
am rather of opinion that it was a judgment 
on the rector for his evilmindedness towards 
the cook, the Lord foreknowing that he was 
about to be wilful and vengeful in that quarter. 
It was, however, more advisedly that he took 
other pullets, on his own view of the case, 


although it might be that the same pullets 
would suit him again as well as ever, when 
his appetite should return; for it doth not 
appear that they were loath to lay, but laid 
somewhat unsatisfactorily. 

*' Now, youth!" continued his worship, '* if 
in our clemency we should spare thy life, 
study this higher elegiacal strain which thou 
hast carried with thee from Oxford: it con- 
taineth, over and above an unusual store of 
biography, much sound moral doctrine, for 
those who are heedful in the weighing of it. 
And what can be more affecting than, 

* At mess he lost quite 
His small appetite, 
By losing his friend the good dean !' 

And what an insight into character ! Store 
it up ; store it up ! Small appetite, parti- 
cular; good dean, generick." 

" Hereupon did Master Silas jerk me with 
his indicative joint, the elbow to wit, and did 
say in my ear. 


" He means deanery. Give me one of 
those bones so full of marrow, and let my 
lord bishop have all the meat over it, and 
welcome. If a dean is not on his stilts, he 'is 
not on his stumps: he stands on his own 
ground : he is a noli-me'tangeretarian.^' 

'' What art thou saying of those sectaries, 
good Master Silas!" quoth Sir Thomas, not 
hearing him distinctly. 

" I was talking of the dean," replied 
Master Silas. " He was the very dean who 
wrote and sang that song called the Two 

'' Hast it?" asked he. 

Master Silas shook his head, and, trying 
in vain to recollect it, said at last, 

*' After dinner it sometimes pops out of a 
filbert-shell in a crack ; and I have known it 
float on the first glass of Herefordshire cider ; 
it also hath some affinity with very stiff and 
old bottled beer ; but in a morning it seemeth 
unto me like a remnant of over-night "' 


*' Our memory waneth, Master Silas !" 
quoth Sir Thomas, looking seriously. " If thou 
couldst repeat it, without the grimace of sing- 
ing, it were not ill." 

Master Silas struck the table with his fist, 
and repeated the first stave angrily; but in 
the second he forgot the admonition of Sir 
Thomas, and did sing outright, 

" Jack Calvin and Jack Cade, 
Two gentles of one trade, 

Two tinkers. 
Very gladly would pull down 
Mother Church and Father Crown, 
And would starve or would drown 

Right thinkers. 

" Honest man ! honest man ! 
Fill the can, fill the can. 

They are coming ! they are coming ! they are coming ! 
If any drop be left. 
It might tempt 'em to a theft .... 

Zooks ! it was only the ale that was humming." 

" In the first stave, gramercy ! there is an 
awful verity," quoth Sir Thomas; '' but I 


wonder that a dean should let his skewer 
slip out, and his fat catch fire so wofuUy, in 
the second. Light stuff, Silas ! fit only for 

Master Silas was nettled in the nose, and 

" Let me see the man in Warwickshire, 
and in all the counties round, who can run 
at such a rate with so light a feather in the 
palm of his hand. I am no poet, thank God! 
but I know what folks can do, and what folks 
cannot do." 

'' Well, Silas!" replied Sir Thomas, '' after 
thy thanksgiving for being no poet, let us have 
the rest of the piece." 

" The rest!" quoth Master Silas. " When 
the ale hath done with its humming, it is time, 
methinks, to dismiss it. Sir, there never was 
any more : you might as well ask for more 
after Amen or the see of Canterbury." 

Sir Thomas was dissatisfied, and turned off 
the discourse ; and peradventure he grew more 


inclined to be gracious unto Willy from the 
slight rub his chaplain had given him, were 
it only for the contrariety. When he had 
collected his thoughts, he was determined to 
assert his supremacy on the score of poetry. 

" Deans, I perceive, like other quality," 
said he, " cannot run on long together. My 
friend. Sir Everard Starkeye could never over- 
leap four bars. I remember but one composi- 
tion of his ; on a young lady who mocked at 
his inconsistency, in calling her sometimes his 
Grace and at other times his Muse. 

*' My Grace shall Fanny Carew be, 
While here she deigns to stay ; ' 
And (ah, how sad the change for me !) 
My Muse when far away !" 

And when we laughed at him for turning his 
back upon her after the fourth verse, all he 
could say for himself was, that he would 
rather a game at all fours with Fanny, than 
omhre and picquet with the finest furbelows in 


Christendom. Men of condition do usually 
want a belt in the course." 

Whereunto said Master Silas, 

*' Men out of condition are quite as liable 
to lack it, methinks." 

''Silas! Silas!" replied the knight, impa- 
tiently, " pry thee keep to thy divinity, thy 
strong hold upon Zion ; thence none that faces 
thee can draw thee without being bitten to 
the bone. Leave poetry to me." 

" With all my heart," quoth Master Silas, 
" I will never ask a belt from her, until I see 
she can afford to give a shirt. She has promised 
a belt, indeed, not one, however, that doth 
much improve the wind, to this lad here, and 
will keep her word ; but she was forced to bor- 
row the pattern from a Carthusian friar, and 
somehow it slips above the shoulder." 

" I am by no means sure of that," quoth 
Sir Thomas. *' He shall have fair play. He 
carrieth in his mind many valuable things, 
whereof it hath pleased Providence to ordain 


him the depository. He hath laid before us 
certain sprigs of poetry from Oxford, trim as 
pennyroyal, and larger leaves of household 
divinity, the most mildly-savoured ; pleasant 
in health, and wholesome in sickness." 

" I relish not such mutton-broth divinity," 
said Master Silas. *' It makes me sick in 
" order to settle my stomach." 

" We may improve it," said the knight, 
'^ but first let us hear more." 

Then did William Shakspeare resume Dr. 
Glaston's discourse. 

*' ' Ethelbert! I think thou walkest but 
little ; otherwise I should take thee with me, 
some fine fresh morning, as far as unto the 
first hamlet on the Cherwell. There lies 
young Wellerby, who, the year before, was 
wont to pass many hours of the day poetising 
amidst the ruins of Godgson nunnery. It is 
said that he bore a fondness toward a young 
maiden in that place, formerly a village, now 
containing but two old farm-houses. In my 


memory there were still extant several dormi- 
tories. Some love-sick girl had recollected 
an ancient name, and had engraven on a stone 
with a garden-nail, which lay in rust near it, 


I entered these precincts, and heheld a youth 
of manly form and countenance, washing and 
wiping a stone with a handful of wet grass ; 
and on my going up to him, and asking 
what he had found, he shewed it to me The 
next time I saw him was near the banks of 
the Cherwell. He had tried, it appears, to 
forget or overcome his foolish passion, and 
had applied his whole mind unto study. 
He was foiled by his competitor ; and now 
he sought consolation in poetry. Whether 
this opened the wounds that had closed in his 
youthful breast, and malignant Love, in his 
Tevenge, poisoned it ; or whether the disap- 
pointment he had experienced in finding 
others preferred to him, first in the paths of 


fortune, then in those of the muses, — he was 
thought to have died broken-hearted. 

" ' About half a mile from St. John's College 
is the termination of a natural terrace, with 
the Cherwell close under it, in some places 
bright with yellow and red flowers glancing and 
glowing through the stream, and suddenly in 
others dark with the shadows of many different 
trees, in broad overbending thickets, and with 
rushes spear-high, and party-coloured flags. 

'* ' After a walk in Midsummer, the immer- 
sion of our hands into the cool and closing 
grass is surely not the least among our animal 
delights. I was just seated, and the first sen- 
sation of rest vibrated in me gently, as though 
it were music to the limbs, when I discoverd 
by a hollow in the herbage that another was 
near. The long meadow-sweet and blooming 
burnet half concealed from me him whom the 
earth was about to hide totally and for ever. 

'' ' Master Batchelor !' said I, * it is ill- 
sleeping by the water- side.' 


" * No answer was returned. I arose, went 
to the place, and recognised poor Wellerby. His 
brow was moist, his cheek was warm. A few 
moments earlier, and that dismal lake where- 
unto and wherefrom the waters of life, the 
buoyant blood, ran no longer, might have re- 
ceived one vivifying ray reflected from my poor 
casement. I might not indeed have comforted — 
I have often failed : but there is one who never 
has ; and the strengthener of the bruised reed 
should have been with us. 

" ^ Remembering that his mother did abide 
one mile further on, I walked forward to the 
mansion, and asked her what tidings she lately 
had received of her son. She replied, that 
having given up his mind to light studies, the 
fellows of the college would not elect him. 
The master had warned him before-hand to 
abandon his- selfish poetry, take up manfully 
the quarterstaff of logic, and wield it for St. 
John's, come who would into the ring. " We 
want our man," said he to me, " and your son 


hath failed us in the hour of need. Madam, 
he hath been foully beaten in the schools by one 
he might have swallowed, with due exercise." 

" * I rated him, told him I was poor, and he 
knew it. He was stung, and threw himself 
upon my neck, and wept. Twelve days have 
passed since, and only three rainy ones. I 
hear he has been seen upon the knoll yonder, 
but hither he hath not come. I trust he knows 
at last the value of time, and I shall be heartily 
glad to see him after this accession of know- 
ledge. Twelve days, it is true, are rather a 
chink than a gap in time ; yet, O gentle sir ! 
they are that chink which makes the vase quite 
valueless. There are light words which may 
never be shaken off the mind they fall on. My 
child, who was hurt by me, will not let me see 
the marks.' 

" * Lady !' said I, ' hone are left upon him. 
Be comforted ! thou shalt see him this hour. 
All that thy God hath not taken is yet thine.' 
She looked at me earnestly, and would have 


then asked something, but her voice failed her. 
There was no agony, no motion, save in the 
lips and cheeks. Being the widow of one who 
fought under Hawkins, she remembered his 
courage and sustained the shock, and said 
calmly, ' God's will be done ! I pray that he 
find me as worthy as he findeth me willing to 
join them.' 

*' Now, in her unearthly thoughts, she had 

' led her only son to the bosom of her husband ; 

and in her spirit (which often is permitted to 

pass the gates of death with holy love) she left 

them both with their Creator. 

" The curate of the village sent those who 
should bring home the body ; and some days 
afterwards he came unto me, beseeching me to 
write the epitaph. Being no friend to stone- 
cutter's charges, I entered not into biography, 
but wrote these few words : 

riDET DEI.'" 


" Poor Jack! poor Jack!" sourly quoth 
Master Silas. ** If your wise doctor could say 
nothing more about the fool, who died like a 
rotten sheep among the darnels, his Latin 
might have held out for the father, and might 
have told people he was as cool as a cucumber 
at home, and as hot as pepper in battle. Could 
he not find room enough on the whin stone, to 
tell the folks of the village how he played the 
devil among the dons, burning their fingers 
when they would put thumbscrews upon us, 
punching them in the wesand as a blacksmith 
punches a horse-shoe, and throwing them over- 
board like bilgewater ? 

" Has Oxford lost all her Latin ? Here is 
no capitani jilius ; no more mention of family 
than a Welchman would have allowed him ; no 
hicjacet ; and, worse than all, the devil a tittle 
oi spe redemptionis, or anno Domini" 

'' Willy !" quoth Sir Thomas, " I shrewdly 
do suspect there was more, and that thou hast 
forgotten it." 


*' Sir!" answered Willy, " I wrote not 
down the words, fearing to mis-spell them, and 
begged them of the doctor, when I took my 
leave of him on the morrow ; and verily he 
wrote down all he had repeated. I keep them 
always in the tin-box in my waistcoat-pocket, 
among the eel-hooks, on a scrap of paper a 
finger's length and breadth, folded in the mid- 
dle to fit. And when the eels are running, I 
often take it out and read it before I am aware. 
I could as soon forget my own epitaph as this." 

** Simpleton!" said Sir Thomas, with his 
gentle compassionate smile ; *^ but thou hast 
cleared thyself." 


" I think the doctor gave one idle chap as 
much solid pudding as he could digest, with a 
slice to spare for another." 


'* And yet after this pudding the doctor 
gave him a spoonful of custard, flavoured with 


a little bitter, which was mostly left at the bot- 
tom for the other idle chap." 

Sir Thomas not only did endure this very 
goodnaturedly, but deigned even to take in 
good part the smile upon my countenance, as 
though he were a smile-collector, and as though 
his estate were so humble that he could hold 
his laced-bonnet (in all his bravery) for bear 
find fiddle. 

He then said unto Willy, 

" Place likewise this custard before us." 

'* There is but little of it ; the platter is 
shallow," replied he ; " 'twas suited to Master 
Ethelbert's appetite. The contents were these : 

*' ' The things whereon thy whole soul 
brooded in its innermost recesses, and with all 
its warmth and energy, will pass unprised and 
unregarded, not only throughout thy lifetime 
but long after. For the higher beauties of 
poetry are beyond the capacity, beyond the 
vision of almost all. Once perhaps in half a 
century a single star is discovered, then named 



and registered, then mentioned by five studious 
men to five more ; at last some twenty say, or 
repeat in writing, what they have heard about 
it. Other stars await other discoveries. Few 
and solitary, and wide asunder, are those who 
calculate their relative distances, their myste- 
rious influences, their glorious magnitude, and 
their stupendous height. 'Tis so, believe me, 
and ever was so, with the truest and best poetry. 
Homer, they say, was blind; he might have 
been ere he died ; that he sat among the blind, 
we are sure. 

" ' Happy they who, like this young lad from 
Stratford, write poetry on the saddle-bow when 
their geldings are jaded, and keep the desk for 
better purposes.' 

*' The young gentlemen, like the elderly, 
all turned their faces toward me, to my con- 
fusion, so much did I remark of sneer and 
scoff at my cost. Master Ethelbert was the 
only one who spared me. He smiled and said, 

" ^ Be patient ! From the higher heavens 


of poetry, it is long before the radiance of the 
brightest star can reach the world below. We 
hear that one man finds out one beauty, ano- 
ther man finds out another, placing his obser- 
vatory and instruments on the poet's grave. 
The worms must have eaten us before it is 
rightly known what we are. It is only when 
we are skeletons that we are boxed and tick- 
eted, and prised and shewn. Be it so! I shall 
not be tired of waiting.* '^ 

** Reasonable youth !" said Sir Thomas ; 
" yet both he and Glaston walk rather a strad- 
dle, methinks. They might have stepped up to 
thee more straightforwardly, and told thee the 
trade ill suiteth thee, having little fire, little 
fantasy, and little learning. Furthermore, that 
one poet as one bull sufficeth for two parishes, 
and that, where they are stuck too close toge- 
ther, they are apt to fire, like haystacks. I 
have known it myself: I have had my malig- 
nants and scoffers.'* 


** I never could have thought it.*' 



** There again ! Another proof of thy in- 


" Matt Atterend! Matt Atterend! where 
wert thou sleeping !" 


" I shall now from my own stores impart 
unto thee what will avail to tame thee, shewing 
the utter hopelessness of standing on that golden 
weathercock which supporteth but one at a time. 

** The passion for poetry wherewith Mon- 
sieur Dubois would have inspired me, as he 
was bound to do, being paid before-hand, had 
cold water thrown upon it by that unlucky one, 
Sir Everard. He ridiculed the idea of male 
and female rhymes, and the necessity of trying 
them as rigidly by the eye as by the ear ; saying 
to Monsieur Dubois that the palate, in which 
the French excel all mortals, ought also to 
be consulted in their acceptance or rejection. 
Monsieur Dubois told us that if we did not 
wish to be taught French verse, he would teach 


US English. Sir Everard preferred the Greek ; 
but Monsieur Dubois would not engage to 
teach the mysteries of that poetry in fewer than 
thirty lessons, having (since his misfortunes) 
forgotten the letters and some other necessaries. 

" The first poem I ever wrote was in the 
character of a shepherd, to Mistress Anne 
Nanfan, daughter of Squire Fulke Nanfan, 
of Worcestershire, at that time on a visit to 
the worshipful family of Compton at Long 

" We were young creatures ; I but twenty- 
four and seven months (for it was written on 
the 14th of May), and she well-nigh upon a 
twelvemonth younger. My own verses, the 
first, are neither here nor there; indeed, they 
were imbedded in solid prose, like lampreys 
and ram's-horns^ in our limestone, and would 
be hard to get out whole. What they are may 
be seen by her answer, all in verse : 

* It is doubtful whether Doctor Buckland will agree 
with Sir Thomas that these petrifactions are ramVhorns and 


" ' Faithful shepherd ! dearest Tommy ! 
I have received the letter from ye, 

And mightily delight therein. 
But mother, she says, " Nanny ! Nanny ! 
Mow J being staid and prudent, can ye 
Think of a man and not ofsinV^ 

" * Sir shepherd ! I held down my head, 
And " Mother ! fie for shame /" I said ; 
All I could say would not content her ; 
Mother she would for ever harp on't, 
" A manh no better than a sarpent, 

And not a crumb more innocenter." ' 

*' I know not how it happeneth," said the 
knight, <' but a poet doth open before a poet, 
albeit of baser sort. It is not that I hold my 
poetry to be better than some other in time 
past, it is because I would shew thee that I was 
virtuous and wooed virtuously, that I repeat 
it. Furthermore, I wished to leave a deep im- 
pression on the mother's mind that she was ex- 
ceedingly wrong in doubting my innocence." 


" Gracious Heaven ! and was this too 
doubted V 



" Maybe not ; but the whole race of men, 
the whole male sex, wanted and found in me 
a protector. I shewed her what I was ready 
to do." 


" Perhaps, sir, it was for that very thing 
that she put the daughter back and herself 


** I say not so, but thou may est know as 
much as befitteth, as follows : 

* Worshipful lady ! honoured madam I 
I at this present truly glad am 

To have so fair an opportunity 
Of saying I would be the man 
To bind in wedlock Mistress Anne, 

Living with her in holy unity. 

* And for a jointure I will gi'e her 
A good two hundred pounds a-year 

Accruing from my landed rents. 
Whereof see t'other paper, telling 
Lands, copses, and grown woods for felling, 

Capons, and cottage tenements. 


* And who must come at sound of horn, 
And who pays but a barley-corn, 

And who is bound to keep a whelp, 
And what is brought me for the pound, 
And copyholders, which are sound. 

And which do need the leech's help. 

' And you may see in these two pages 
Exact their illnesses and ages, 

Enough (God willing) to content ye ; 
Who looks full red, who looks full yellow, 
Who plies the mullen, who the mallow. 

Who fails at fifty, who at twenty. 

* Jim Yates must go ; he's one day very hot 
And one day ice; I take a heriot; 

And poorly, poorly's Jacob Burgess. 
The doctor tells me he has pour'd 
Into his stomach half his hoard 

Of anthelminticals and purges. 

' Judith, the wife of Ebenezer 
Fillpots, won't have him long to teaze her ; 
f illpots blows hot and cold like Jim, 
And, sleepless lest the boys should plunder 
His orchard, he must soon knock under; 
Death has been looking out for him. 

* He blusters ; but his good yard land 
Under the church, his ale-house, and 
His Bible, which he cut in spite, 


Must all fall in ; he stamps and swears 
And sets his neighbours by the ears — 
Fillpots ! thy saddle sits not tight 1' 

" The epitaph is ready : 

* Here 
Lies one whom all his friends did fear 

More than they ever feared the Lord: 
In peace, he was at times a Christian ; 
In strife f what stubboner Philistine ! 

Singf sing his psalm with one accord. 

' And he who lent my lord his wife 
Has but a very ticklish life ; 

Although she won him many a hundred, 
T won't do ; none comes with briefs and wills, 
And all her gainings are gilt pills 

From the sick madman that she plundered- 

* And the brave lad who sent the bluff 
Olive-feced Frenchman (sure enough) 

Screaming and scouring like a plover, 
Must follow — him I mean who dash'd 
Into the water, and then thrash'd 

The cullion past the town of Dover. 

' But first there goes the blear old dame 
Who nurs'd me ; you have heard her name. 
No doubt, at Compton, Sarah Salways; 



There are twelve groats at once, beside 
The frying-pan in which she fried 
Her pancakes. 

Madam, I am always, &c. 

T. L.' 

'' I did believe that such a clear and con- 
scientious exposure of my affairs would have 
brought me a like return. My letter was sent 
back to me with small courtesy. It may be 
there was no paper in the house, or none equal- 
ling mine in whiteness. No notice was taken 
of the rent-roll ; but between the second and 
third stanza these four lines were written, in a 
very fine hand : 

* Most honor'd knight. Sir Thomas ! two 
For merry Nan will never do ; 
Now under favour let me say 't. 
She will bring more herself than that.' 

I have reason to believe that the worthy lady 
did neither write nor countenance the same, 
perhaps did not ever know of them. She 
always had at her elbow one who jogged it 


when he listed, and, although he could not 
overrule the daughter, he took especial care 
that none other should remove her from his 
tutelage, even when she had fairly grown up 
to woman's estate. 

" Now, after all this condescension and 
confidence, promise me, good lad, promise that 
thou wilt not edge and elbow me. Never let 
it be said, when people say. Sir Thomas was a 
poet when he willed it ; so is Bill Shakspeare ! 
It beseemeth not that our names do go toge- 
ther cheek by jowl in this familiar fashion, 
like an old beagle and a whelp, in couples, 
where if the one would, the other would not." 


" Sir, while these thoughts are passing in 
your mind, remember there is another pair of 
couples out of which it would be as well to 
keep the cur's neck." 


" Young man ! dost thou understand Mas- 
ter Silas r 



" But too well. Not those couples in which 
it might be apprehended that your worship 
and my un worthiness should appear too close 
together; but those sorrowfuUer which perad- 
venture might unite Master Silas and me in 
our road to Warwick and upwards. But I 
resign all right and title unto these as willingly 
as I did unto the other, and am as ready to let 
him go alone." 


" If we keep wheeling and wheeling, like 
a flock of pigeons, and rising again when we 
are within a foot of the ground, we shall never 
fill the craw." 


" Do thou then question him, Silas?" 


'' I am none of the quorum : the business 
is none of mine." 

• Then Sir Thomas took Master Silas again 
into the bay-window, and said softly, 


** Silas, he hath no inkling of thy meaning. 
The business is a ticklish one. I like not over- 
much to meddle and make therein." 

Master Silas stood dissatisfied awhile, and 
then answered, 

*' The girl's mother, sir, was housemaid 
and sempstress in your own family, time back, 
and you thereby have a right over her unto 
the third and fourth generation." 

" I may have, Silas," said his worship, 
*^ but it was no longer than four or five years 
agone that folks were fain to speak maliciously 
of me for only finding my horse in her hovel." 

Sir Silas looked red and shiny as a ripe 
strawberry on a Snitterfield tile, and answered 
somewhat peevishly, 

" The same folks, I misgive me, may find 
the rogue's there any night in the week." 

Whereunto replied Sir Thomas, mortifiedly, 

'* I cannot think it, Silas! I cannot think 

And after some hesitation and disquiet, 


** Nay, I am resolved I will not think it : 
no man, friend or enemy, shall push it into 

" Worshipful sir !" answered Master Silas, 
" I am as resolute as any one in what I would 
think and what I would not think, and never 
was known to fight dunghill in either cockpit. 

*' Were he only out of the way, she might 
do her duty, but what doth she now ? 

** She points his young beard for him ; per- 
suades him it grows thicker and thicker, blacker 
and blacker; she washes his ruff, stiffens it, 
plaits it, tries it upon his neck, removes the 
hair from under it, pinches it with thumb and 
forefinger, pretending that he hath moiled it, 
puts her hand all the way round it, setting it 
to rights, as she calleth it. . . 

'* Ah, Sir Thomas ! a louder whistle than 
that will never call her back again when she 
is off with him." 

Sir Thomas was angered, and cried tartly, 

" Who whistled ? I would know." 


Master Silas said submissively, 
'* Your honour, as wrongfully I fancied." 
'* Wrongfully, indeed, and to my no small 
disparagement and discomfort," said the knight, 
verily believing that he had not whistled ; for 
deep and dubious were his cogitations. 

** I protest," went he on to say, " I protest 
it was the wind of the casement ; and if I live 
another year I will put a better in the place of 
it. . . Whistle indeed ! for what ? I care no 
more about her than about an unfledged cygnet 
... a child,* a chicken, a mere kitten, a crab- 
blossom in the hedge.'* 

The dignity of his worship was wounded 
by Master Silas unaware, and his wrath again 
turned suddenly upon poor William. 

** Hark-ye, knave ! hark-ye again, ill-look- 
ing stripling, lanky from vicious courses! I 

* She was then twenty-seven years of age. Sir Thomas 
must have spoken of her from earlier recollections. Shak- 
speare was in the twentieth year. 


will reclaim thee from them : I will do what 
thy own father would, and cannot. Thou shalt 
follow his business." 

" I cannot do better, may it please your 
worship !" said the lad. 

'* It shall lead thee unto wealth and re- 
spectability," said the knight, somewhat ap- 
peased by his ready compliancy and low gentle 
voice. " Yea, but not here; no witches, no 
wantons (this word fell gravely and at full- 
length upon the ear), no spells hereabout. 

" Gloucestershire is within a measured mile 
of thy dwelling. There is one at Bristol, for- 
merly a parish-boy, or little better, who now 
writeth himself gentleman in large round letters, 
and hath been elected, I hear, to serve as bur- 
gess in parliament for his native city ; just as 
though he had eaten a capon or turkey-poult 
in his youth, and had actually been at gram- 
mar-school and college. When he began, he 
had not credit for a goat-skin ; and now, be- 


hold ye ! this very coat upon my back did cost 
me eight shillings the dearer for him, he 
bought up wool so largely." 


" May it please your worship ! if my father 
so ordereth, I go cheerfully.'* 


" Thou art grown discreet and dutiful : I 
am fain to command thy release, taking thy 
promise on oath, and some reasonable security, 
that thou wilt abstain and withhold in future 
from that idle and silly slut, that sly and scoff- 
ing giggler, Hannah Hathaway, with whom, 
to the heart-ache of thy poor worthy father, 
thou wantonly keepest company." 

Then did Sir Thomas ask Master Silas 
Gough for the Book of Life, bidding him de- 
liver it into the right hand of Billy, with an 
eye upon him that he touch it with both lips ; 
it being taught by the Jesuits, and caught too 
greedily out of their society and communion. 


that whoso toucheth it with one lip only, and 
thereafter sweareth falsely, cannot be called a 
perjurer, since perjury is breaking an oath. 
But breaking half an oath, as he doth who 
toucheth the Bible or crucifix with one lip only, 
is no more perjury than breaking an eggshell 
is breaking an eg^, the shell being a part, and 
the egg being an integral. 

William did take the Holy Book with all 
due reverence the instant it was offered to his 
hand. His stature seemed to rise therefrom 
as from a pulpit, and Sir Thomas was quite 

" Obedient and conducible youth !" said he. 
" See there, Master Silas ! what hast thou now 
to say against him ? who sees farthest ?" 

'* The man from the gallows is the most 
likely, bating his nightcap and blinker," said 
Master Silas peevishly. ** He hath not out- 
witted me yet." 

** He seized upon the Anchor of Faith like 
a martyr," said Sir Thomas, *' and even now 


his face burns red as elder-wine before the 


" I await the further orders of your worship 
from the chair." 


" I return and seat myself." 

And then did Sir Thomas say with great 
complacency and satisfaction in the ear of 
Master Silas, 

*' What civility, and deference, and sedate - 
ness of mind, Silas !'* 

But Master Silas answered not. 


" Must I swear, sir?'* 


** Yea, swear; be of good courage. I pro- 
test to tliee by my honour and knighthood, no 
ill shall come unto thee therefrom. Thou shalt 
not be circumvented in thy simpleness and in- 

Willy, having taken the Book of Life, 


did kiss it piously, and did press it unto his 
breast, saying, 

" Tenderest love is the growth of my 
heart, as the grass is of Alvescote mead. 

*' May I lose my life or my friends, or 
my memory, or my reason ; may I be viler in 
my own eyes than those men are " 

Here he was interrupted, most lovingly, 
by Sir Thomas, who said unto him, 

" Nay, nay, nay! poor youth! do not tell 
me so ! they are not such very bad men ; since 
thou appealest unto Caesar ; that is, unto the 

Now his worship did mean the two wit- 
nesses, Joseph and Euseby ; and, sooth to say, 
there be many worse. But William had them 
not in his eye ; his thoughts were elsewhere, as 
will be evident, — for he went on thus : — 

. ..." If ever I forget or desert thee, or 
ever cease to worship* and cherish thee, my 

* It is to be feared that his taste for venison outlasted 
that for matrimony, spite of this vow. 



** The madman ! the audacious, desperate, 
outrageous villain ! Look-ye, sir ! where he 
flung the Holy Gospel! Behold it on the 
holly and box boughs in the chimney-place, 
spread en all abroad, like a lad about to be 


*' Miscreant knave ! I will send after him 
forthwith ! 

" Ho, there ! is the caitiff at hand, or run- 
ning off?" 

Jonas Greenfield the butler did budge 
forward after a while, and say, on being 

" Surely, that was he ! Was his nag tied 
to the iron gate at the lodge. Master Silas ?" 


*' What should I know about a thief's nag, 
Jonas Greenfield ? " 

" And didst thou let him go, Jonas ? even 


thou ?'' said Sir Thomas. " What ! are none 
found faithful?" 

" Lord love your worship," said Jonas 
Greenfield ; " a man of threescore and two 
may miss catching a kite upon wing. Fleet- 
ness doth not make folks the faithfuUer, or 
that youth yonder heats us all in faithfulness. 

" Look ! he darts on like a greyhound 
whelp after a leveret. He, sure enough, it 
was ! I now remember the sorrel mare his 
father bought of John Kinderley last Lammas, 
swift as he threaded the trees along the park. 
He must have reached Wellesbourne ere now 
at that gallop, and pretty nigh Walton-hill." 


" Merciful Christ ! grant the country be 
rid of him for ever ! What dishonour upon his 
friends and native town ! A reputable wool- 
stapler s son turned gipsy and poet for life." 


•' A Beelzebub ; he spake as bigly and 
fiercely as a soaken yeoman at an election 


feast this obedient and conducible 



" It was SO written. Hold thy peace, 

£. B. 


feast . . 

. . . 

. this obedient and conducible 




so written. 





E. B. 



Twelve days are over and gone since William 
Shakspeare did leave our parts. And the 
spinster, Hannah Hathaway, is in sad doleful 
plight about him ; forasmuch as Master Silas 
Gough went yesterday unto her, in her 
mother's house at Shottery, and did desire 
both her and her mother to take heed and be 
admonished, that if ever she, Hannah, threw 
away one thought after the runagate William 
Shakspeare, he should swing. 


The girl could do nothing but weep ; while 
as the mother did give her solemn promise 
that her daughter should never more think 
about him all her natural life, reckoning from 
the moment of this her promise. 

And the maiden, now growing more rea- 
sonable, did promise the same. But Master 
Silas said, 

*' / doubt you will, thoughj'^ 

*' No" said the mother, *' I answer for her 
she shall not think of him, even if she see his 

fim-Haunah screamed, and swooned, the better 
to forget him. And Master Silas went home 
easier and contenteder. For now all the worst 
of his hard duty was accomplished ; he having 
been, on the Wednesday of last week, at the 
speech of Master John Shakspeare, Will's 
father, to inquire whether the sorrel mare 
was his. To which question the said Master 
John Shakspeare did answer, " Yea'^ 

" Enough saidT rejoined Master Silas. 


" Horse-Stealing is capital. We shall bind 
thee over to appear against the culprit, as pro- 
secutor , at the next assizes." 

May the Lord in his mercy give the lad 
a good deliverance, if so be it be no sin to 
wish it! 

October 1, a.d. 1582. 



A PART only of the many deficiencies which the 
reader will discover in this volume is attri- 
hutable to the Editor. These, however, it is his 
duty to account for, and he will do it as briefly 
as he can. 

The facsimiles (as printers' boys call them, 
meaning specimens) of the handwriting of nearly 
all the persons introduced, might perhaps have 
been procured, had sufficient time been allowed 
for another journey into Warwickshire. That 
of Shakspeare is known already in the sig- 
nature to his will, but deformed by sickness: 
that of Sir Thomas Lacy is extant at the bottom 
of a commitment of a female vagrant, for hav- 
ing a sucking child in her arms on the public 
road : that of Silas Gough is affixed to the re- 
gister of births and marriages, during several 

244 editor's apology. 

years, in the parishes of Hampton Lucy and 
Charlecote, and certifies one death — that of 
Euseby Treen — surmised, at least, to be Euseby 
Treen, in the letters E. T. cut on a bench seven 
inches thick, under an old pollard-oak outside 
the park -paling of Charlecote, towards the 
north-east. For this discovery the Editor is 
indebted to a most respectable and intelligent 
farmer in the adjoining parish of Wasperton, 
in which parish Treen's elder brother lies 
buried. The worthy farmer is unwilling to 
accept the lai%e portion of fame justly due to 
him for the services he has thus rendered to 
literature in elucidating the history of Shak- 
speare and his times. The Editor is unable to 
render adequate thanks to the Rev. Stephen 
Turnover, for the gratification he received in 
his curious library by a sight of Joseph Car- 
naby's name at full length, in red ink, coming 
from a trumpet in the mouth of an angel. 
This invaluable document is upon an engraving 
in a frontispiece to the New Testament. 

editor's apology. 245 

But as unhappily he could procure no sig- 
nature of Hannah Hathaway, nor of her mother, 
and only a questionable one of Mr. John Shak- 
peare, the poet's father, there being two, in two 
very different hands, — both he and the Pub- 
lisher were of opinion that the graphical part 
of the volume would be justly censured as ex- 
tremely incomplete, and that what we could 
give would only raise inextinguishable regret 
for that which we could not. On this reflec- 
tion all have been omitted. 

The Editor and Publisher are unwilling to 
affix any mark of disapprobation on the very 
clever engraver who undertook the sorrel mare ; 
but as, in the memorable words of that inge- 
nious gentleman from Ireland, whose polished 
and elaborate epigrams raised him justly to the 
rank of prime minister, 

" White was not so very white ;" 
in like manner it appeared to nearly all the 
artists we consulted, that the sorrel mare was 
not so sorrel in print. 

246 editor's apology. 

Such are the reasons why the little volume 
here laid before the public is defective in those 
decorations which the exalted state of litera- 
ture demands. 








ANNO. DOM. 1598. 

M 2 


To the same worthy man who pre- 
served the Examination of Shakspeare, 
we are indebted for what he entitles on 
the cover, A Conference of Master Ed- 
mund Spenser, S^c, with the Earl of 
Essex. It must be confessed that this 
Conference throws Uttle Hght upon the 
great rebellion of Ireland. Nevertheless, 
there are some curious minds, which, 
perhaps, may take an interest in the 
conversation of two illustrious men, one 
distinguished by his genius, the other 
by the favour of his sovereign. The 
Editor, it will be perceived, is but little 
practised in the ways of literature, much 
less is he gifted with that prophetic spirit 


which can anticipate the judgment of the 
public. It may be that he is too idle or 
too apathetic to think anxiously or much 
about the matter ; and yet he has been 
amused, in his earher days, at watching 
the first appearance of such few books 
as he believed to be the production of 
some powerful intellect. He has seen 
people slowly rise up to them, like carp 
in a pond when food is thrown among 
them ; some of which carp snatch sud- 
denly at a morsel, and swallow it ; others 
touch it gently with their barbe, pass de- 
liberately by, and leave it ; others wriggle 
and rub against it more disdainfully ; 
others, in sober truth, know not what 
to make of it, swim round and round it, 
eye it on the sunny side, eye it on the 
shady ; approach it, question it, shoulder 
it, flap it with the tail, turn it over, look 


askance at it, take a pea-shell or a worm 
instead of it, and plunge again their con- 
tented heads into the comfortable mud : 
after some seasons the same food will suit 
their stomachs better. 

The Editor has seen all this, and been 
an actor in it, whether at Chantilly or 
Fontainebleau is indifferent to the reader ; 
and it has occurred to him that Shak- 
speare and Spenser were thrown among 
such carp, and began to be relished (the 
worst, of course, first) after many years. 
He is certain that these two pubhcations 
can interest only the antiquary and bio- 
grapher; enough if even such find their 
account in them. 


It happened by mere accident that so 
obscure a man as Ephraim Barnett, with 
no pecuhar zeal for genius, and with no 
other scope or intention than a lesson for 
his descendants, has preserved an authen- 
tic memorial of the principal event both 
in the life of Shakspeare and of Spenser : 
the one event was very near the cause 
of terminating Shakspeare's, the^ other did 
terminate Spenser's. He accounts for his 
knowledge of the facts naturally enough, 
as those will readily admit who have the 
patience to read his paper on the subject. 
It would be inhumane in the Editor to 
ask any of it for himself, when it is about 
to undergo such an exertion. 



" Instantly on hearing of thy arrival from 
Ireland, I sent a message to thee, good Ed- 
mund, that I might learn from one so judi- 
cious and dispassionate as thou art, the real 
state of things in that distracted country ; it 
having pleased the queen's majesty to think of 
appointing me her deputy, in order to bring 
the rebellious to submission." 


'' Wisely and well considered ; but more 
worthily of her judgment than her affection. 
May your lordship overcome, as you have 
ever done, the difficulties and dangers you 



(t -^g grow weak by striking at random ; 
and knowing that I must strike, and strike 
heavily, I would fain see exactly where the 
stroke shall fall. 

" Some attribute to the Irish all sorts of 
excesses; others tell us that these are old 
stories ; that there is not a more inoffensive 
race of merry creatures under heaven, and that 
their crimes are all hatched for them here in 
England, by the incubation of printers' boys, 
and are brought to market at times of distress- 
ing dearth in news. From all that I myself 
have seen of them, I can only say, that the 
civilised (I mean the richer and titled) are as 
susceptible of heat as iron, and as impene- 
trable to light as granite. The half- barbarous 
are probably worse ; the utterly barbarous may 
be somewhat better. Like game-cocks, they 
must spur when they meet. One fights be- 
cause he fights an Englishman ; another be- 
cause the fellow he quarrels with comes from 


a distant county; a third because the next 
parish is an eyesore to him, and his fist-mate 
is from it. The only thing in which they 
all agree as proper law is the tooth-for-tooth 
act. Luckily we have a bishop who is a native, 
and we called him before the queen. He 
represented to her majesty, that every thing 
in Old Ireland tended to re-produce its kind ; 
crimes among others ; and he declared frankly, 
that if an honest man is murdered, or what 
is dearer to an honest man, if his honour is 
wounded in the person of his wife, it must 
be expected that he will retaliate. Her ma- 
jesty delivered it as her opinion, that the 
latter case of vindictiveness was more likely 
to take effect than the former. But the bishop 
replied, that in his conscience he could not 
answer for either if the man was up. The 
dean of the same diocese gave us a more 
favourable report. Being a justice of the peace, 
he averred most solemnly that no man ever 
had complained to him of murder, excepting 


one who had lost so many fore-teeth by a 
cudgel that his deposition could not be taken 
exactly, added to which, his head was a little 
clouded with drunkenness; furthermore, that 
extremely few women had adduced sufficiently 
clear proofs of violence, excepting those who 
were wilful and resisted with tooth and nail. 
In all which cases it was difficult, nay impos- 
sible, to ascertain which violence began first 
and lasted longest. 

" There is not a nation upon earth that 
pretends to be so superlatively generous and 
high-minded ; and there is not one, (I speak 
from experience) so utterly base and venal. 
I - have positive proof that the nobility, in a 
mass, are agreed to sell, for a stipulated sum, 
all their rights and privileges, so much per 
man ; and the queen is inclined thereunto. 
But would our parliament consent to pay 
money for a cargo of rotten pilchards ? And 
would not our captains be readier to swamp 
than to import them ? The noisiest rogues in 


our kingdom, if not quieted by a halter, may 
be quieted by making them brief-collectors, 
and by allowing them first to encourage the 
incendiary, then to denounce and hang him, 
and lastly to collect all the money they can, 
running up and down with the whining fero- 
city of half-starved hyaenas, under pretence 
of repairing the damages their exhausted 
country hath sustained. Others ask modestly 
a few thousands a-year, and no more, from 
those whom they represent to us as naked and 
famished ; and prove clearly to every dis- 
passionate man who hath a single drop of 
free blood in his veins, that at least this 
pittance is due to them for abandoning their 
liberal and lucrative professions, and for en- 
dangering their valuable lives on the tempes- 
tuous seas, in order that the voice of Truth 
may sound for once upon the shores of Eng- 
land, and Humanity cast her shadow on the 
lb %^ gave a dinner to a party of these 


fellows a few weeks ago. I know not how 
many kings and princes were amongst them, 
nor how many poets, and prophets, and legis- 
lators, and sages. When they were half- 
drunk, they coaxed and threatened; when 
they had gone somewhat deeper, they joked, 
and croaked, and hiccupped, and wept over 
sweet Ireland; and when they could neither 
stand nor sit any longer, they fell upon their 
knees and their noddles, and swore that limbs, 
life, liberty, Ireland, and God himself, were 
all at the queen's service. It was only their 
holy religion — the religion of their forefathers 

here sobs interrupted some, howls 

others, execrations more, and the liquor they 
had ingulfed the rest. I looked down on 
them with stupor and astonishment, seeing 
faces, forms, dresses, much like ours, and recol- 
lecting their ignorance, levity, and ferocity. 
My pages drew them gently by the heels down 
the steps ; my grooms set them upright (inas- 
much as might be) on their horses; and the 


people in the streets, shouting and pelting, 
sent forward the beasts to their straw. 

" Various plans have been laid before us for 
civilising or coercing them. Among the pacific, 
it was proposed to make an ofier to five hun- 
dred of the richer Jews in the Hanse-towns 
and in Poland, who should be raised to the 
dignity of the Irish peerage, and endowed with 
four thousand acres of good forfeited land, on 
condition of paying each two thousand pounds, 
and of keeping up ten horsemen and twenty 
foot, Germans or Poles, in readiness for ser- 

'* The Catholics bear no where such ill 
will towards Jews as towards Protestants. 
Brooks make even worse neighbours than 
oceans do. 

*' I myself saw no objection to the mea- 
sure : but our gracious queen declared she had 
an insuperable one — they stank! We all ac- 
knowledged the strength of the argument, and 
took out our handkerchiefs. Lord Burleigh 


almost fainted; and Raleigh wondered how 
the Emperor Titus could bring up his men 
against Jerusalem. 

" * Ah!' said he, looking reverentially at 
her majesty, ' the star of Berenice shone above 
him ! and what evil influence could that star 
not quell ! what malignancy could it not anni- 

'^ Hereupon he touched the earth with his 
brow, until the queen said, 

" ' Sir Walter! lift me up those laurels/ 
" At which manifestation of princely good- 
will he was advancing to kiss her majesty's 
hand, but she waved it, and said sharply, 

" ' Stand there, dog!' 

" Now what tale have you for us? 


" Interrogate me, my lord, that I may 
answer each question distinctly, my mind being 
in utter confusion at what I have seen and 



" Give me thy account and opinion of these 
very affairs as thou leftest them ; for I would 
rather know one part well, than all imper- 
fectly ; and the violences of which I have 
heard within the day surpass belief. 

" Why weepest thou, my gentle Spenser? 
Have the rebels sacked thy house?" 


" They have plundered and utterly de- 
stroyed it.'* 


*' I grieve for thee, and will see thee 


** In this they have little harmed me." 


" How ! I have heard it reported that thy 
grounds are fertile and thy mansion* large and 

* It was purchased, about half a century ago, by a vic- 
tualler and banker, one Tonson, the father or grandfather of 
Lord Riversdale. 



" If river, and lake, and meadow-ground, 
and mountain, could render any place the 
abode of pleasantness, pleasant was mine, in- 
deed ! 

** On the lovely banks of MuUa I found 
deep contentment. Under the dark alders did 
I muse and meditate. Innocent hopes were 
my gravest cares, and my playfullest fancy was 
with kindly wishes. Ah ! surely of all cruel- 
ties the worst is to extinguish our kindness. 
Mine is gone : I love the people and the land 
no longer. My lord, ask me not about them ; 
I may speak injuriously." 


" Think rather, then, of thy happier hours 
and busier occupations ; these likewise may 
instruct me." 


** The first seeds I sowed in the garden, 
ere the old castle was made habitable for my 
lovely bride, were acorns from Penshurst. I 


planted a little oak before my mansion at the 
birth of each child. My sons, I said to my- 
self, shall often play in the shade of them when 
I am gone, and every year shall they take 
the measure of their growth, as fondly as I 
take theirs." 


'' Well, well ; but let not this thought 
make thee weep so bitterly.*' 


" Poison may ooze from beautiful plants ; 
deadly grief from dearest reminiscences. 

" I must grieve, I must weep : it seems the 
law of God, and the only one that men are 
not disposed to controvert. In the perform- 
ance of this alone do they effectually aid one 


*' Spenser ! I wish I had at hand any ar- 
guments or persuasions of force sufficient to 
remove thy sorrow : but really I am not in 



the habit of seeing men grieve at any thing, 
except the loss of favour at court, or of a 
hawk, or of a buck-hound. And were I to 
swear out Ipy condolences to a man of thy 
discernment, in the same round, roll-call 
phrases we employ with one another upon 
these occasions, I should be guilty, not of 
insincerity but of insolence. True grief hath 
ever something sacred in it ; and when it visit- 
eth a wise man and a brave one, is most holy. 

'' Nay, kiss not my hand : he whom God 
smiteth hath God with him. In his presence 
what am I?" 


" Never so great, my lord, as at this hour, 
when you see aright who is greater. May He 
guide your counsels, and preserve your life 
and glory !" 


*' Where are thy friends? Are they with 



" Ah, where, indeed ! Generous, true- 
hearted Philip ! where art thou ! whose pre- 
sence was unto me peace and safety; whose 
smile was contentment, and whose praise re- 
nown. My lord ! I cannot hut think of him 
among still heavier losses : he was my earliest 
friend, and would have taught me wisdom." 


" Pastoral poetry, my dear [ Spenser, doth 
not require tears and lamentations. Dry thine 
eyes ; rebuild thine house : the queen and 
council, I venture to promise thee, will make 
ample amends for every evil thou hast sus- 
tained. What ! does that enforce thee to wail 
still louder?" 


*' Pardon me, bear with me, most noble 
heart ! I have lost what no council, no queen, 
no Essex can restore." 


^* We will see that! There are other 


swords, and other arms to wield them, besides 
a Leicester's and a Raleigh's. Others can 
crush their enemies and serve their friends." 


*' O my sweet child ! And of many so 
powerful, many so wise and so beneficent, was 
there none to save thee? None! none!" 


*' I now perceive that thou lamentest what 
almost every father is destined to lament. Hap- 
piness must be bought, although "the payment 
may be delayed. Consider ; the same calamity 
might have befallen thee here in London. 
Neither the houses of ambassadors, nor the 
palaces of kings, nor the altars of God him- 
self, are asylums against death. How do I 
know but under this very roof there may sleep 
some latent calamity, that in an instant shall 
cover with gloom every inmate of the house, 
and every far dependant?" 


" God avert it!" 



" Every day, every hour of the year, do 
hundreds mourn what thou mournest." 


" Oh, no, no, no ! Calamities there are 
around us ; calamities there are all over the 
earth ; calamities there are in all seasons ; 
but none in any season, none in any place, like 


" So say all fathers, so say all husbands. 
Look at any old mansion-house, and let the 
sun shine as gloriously as it may on the golden 
vanes, or the arms recently quartered over the 
gateway, or the embayed window, and on the 
happy pair that haply is toying at it ; never- 
theless, thou mayest say that of a certainty the 
same fabric hath seen much sorrow within its 
chambers, and heard many wailings : and each 
time this was the heaviest stroke of all. Fune- 
rals have passed along through the stout-hearted 
knights upon the wainscot, and amidst the 


laughing nymphs upon the arras. Old ser- 
vants have shaken their heads, as if somebody 
had deceived them, when they found that 
beauty and nobility could perish. 

" Edmund! the things that are too true 
pass by us as if they were not true at all; and 
when they have singled us out, then only do 
they strike us. Thou and I must go too. 
Perhaps the next year may blow us away with 
its fallen leaves."* 


** For you, my lord, many years (I trust) 
are waiting : I never shall see those fallen 
leaves. No leaf, no bud will spring upon 
the earth before I sink into her breast for 


** Thou, who art wiser than most men, 
shouldst bear with patience, equanimity, and 
courage, what is common to all." 

* It happeoed so. 



*' Enough! enough! enough! Have all 
men seen their infant burnt to ashes before 
their eyes?'' 


*' Gracious God ! Merciful Father ! what 
is this?" 


" Burnt alive ! burnt to ashes ! burnt to 
ashes ! The flames dart their serpent tongues 
through the nursery- windovr. I cannot quit 
thee, my Elizabeth! I cannot lay down our 
Edmund. Oh these flames ! they persecute, 
they inthrall me, they curl round my temples, 
they hiss upon my brain, they taunt me with 
their fierce, foul voices, they carp at me, they 
wither me, they consume me, throwing back 
to me a little of life, to roll and suffer in, with 
their fangs upon me. Ask me, my lord, the 
things you wish to know from me — I may 
answer them — -I am now composed again. 
Command me, my gracious lord ! I would 


yet serve you — soon I shall be unable. You 
have stooped to raise me up ; you have borne 
with me ; you have pitied me, even like one 
not powerful ; you have brought comfort, and 
will leave it with me; for gratitude is com- 

'* Oh ! my memory stands all a tip-toe on 
one burning point : when it drops from it, then 
it perishes. Spare me : ask me nothing ; let 
me weep before you in peace — the kindest act 
of greatness." 


*' I should rather have dared to mount 
into the midst of the conflagration than I now 
dare entreat thee not to weep. The tears that 
overflow thy heart, my Spenser, will staunch 
and heal it in their sacred stream, but not 
without hope in God." 


" My hope in God is that I may soon see 
again what he has taken from me. Amidst 
the myriads of angels there is not one so 


beautiful : and even he, if there be any, who 
is appointed my guardian, could never love 
me SO. Ah! these are idle thoughts, vain 
wanderings, distempered dreams. If there 
ever were guardian angels, he who so wanted 
one, my helpless boy, would not have left 
these arms upon my knees." 


'* God help and sustain thee, too gentle 
Spenser ! I never will desert thee. But what 
am I? Great they have called me! Alas, 
how powerless, then, and infantile is greatness 
in the presence of calamity ! 

" Come, give me thy hand : let us walk 
up and down the gallery. Bravely done ! I 
will envy no more a Sidney or a Raleigh»" 






Studying the benefit and advantage of such as 
by God's blessing may come after me, and 
willing to shew them the highways of Provi- 
dence from the narrow by-lane in the which it 
hath been his pleasure to station me, and be- 
ing now advanced full-nigh unto the close and 
consummation of my earthly pilgrimage, me- 
thinks I cannot do better, at this juncture, than 
preserve the looser and lesser records of those 
who have gone before me in the same, with 
higher heel-piece to their shoe and more po- 
lished scallop to their beaver. And here, be- 
forehand, let us think gravely and religiously 
on what the pagans, in their blindness, did call 
fortune, making a goddess of her, and saying, 

" One body she lifts up so high 
And suddenly, she makes him cry 
And scream as any wench might do 
That you should play the rogue unto : 


And the same Lady Light sees good 
To drop anotlier in the mud, 
Against all hope and likelihood."* 

My kinsman, Jacob Eldridge, having been 
taught by me, among other useful things, to 
write a fair and laudable hand, was recom- 
mended and introduced by our worthy towns- 
man. Master Thomas Greene, unto the Earl of 
Essex, to keep his accounts, and to write down 
sundry matters from his dictation, even letters 
occasionally. For although our nobility, very 
unlike the French, not only can read and write, 
but often do, yet some from generosity, and 
some from dignity, keep in their employment 
what those who are illiterate, and would 
not appear so, call an amanuensis, thereby 
meaning secretary or scribe. Now it happened 
that our gracious queen's highness was desirous 

* The editor has been unable to discover who was the 
author of this very free translation of an Ode in Horace. He 
is certainly happy in his amplification of the stridore acuto. 
May it not be surmised that he was some favourite scholar 
of Ephraim Barnett? 


of knowing all that could be known about the 
Rebellion in Ireland ; and hearing but little 
truth from her nobility in that country, even 
the fathers in God inclining more unto court 
favour than will be readily believed of spiritual 
lords, and moulding their ductile depositions 
on the pasteboard of their temporal mistress, 
until she was angry at seeing the lawn-sleeves 
so besmerched from wrist to elbow, she herself 
did say unto the Earl of Essex,— 

'^ Essex ! these fellows lie! I am inclined to 
unfrock and scourge them sorely for their 
leasings. Of that anon. Find out, if you can, 
somebody who hath his wit and his honesty 
about him at the same time. I know that 
when one of these paniers is full the other is 
apt to be empty, and that men walk crookedly 
for want of balance. No matter — we must 
search and find. Persuade — thou canst per- 
suade, Essex! — say any thing, do any thing. 
We must talk gold and give — iron. Dost un- 
derstand me?" 


The earl did kiss the jewels upon the dread 
fingers, for only the last joint of each is visible : 
and surely no mortal was ever so fool-hardy 
as to take such a monstrous liberty as touching 
it, except in spirit ! On the next day there did 
arrive many fugitives from Ireland ; and 
among the rest was Master Edmund Spenser, 
known even in those parts for his rich vein of 
poetry, in which he is declared by our best 
judges to excel the noblest of the ancients, and 
to leave all the moderns at his feet. Whether 
he notified his arrival unto the earl, or whether 
fame brought the notice thereof unto his lord- 
ship, Jacob knoweth not. But early in the 
morrow did the earl send for Jacob, and say 
unto him, 

" Eldridge! thou must write fairly and 
clearly out, and in somewhat large letters, and 
in lines somewhat wide apart, all that thou 
hearest of the conversation I shall hold with 
a gentleman from Ireland. Take this gilt and 
illumined vellum, and albeit the civet make 


thee sick fifty times, write upon it all that 
passes ! Come not out of the closet until the 
gentleman hath gone homeward. The queen 
requireth much exactness ; and this is equally 
a man of genius, a man of business, and a 
man of worth. I expect from him not only 
what is true, but what is the most important 
and necessary to understand rightly and com- 
pletely ; and nobody in existence is more capa- 
ble of giving me both information and advice. 
Perhaps if he thought another were within 
hearing he would be offended or over-cautious. 
His delicacy and mine are warranted safe and 
sound by the observance of those commands 
which I am delivering unto thee." 

It happened, as will be seen, that no in- 
formation was given in this conference relating 
to the movements or designs of the rebels. So 
that Master Jacob Eldridge was left possessor 
of the costly vellum, which, now Master Spenser 
is departed this life, I keep as a memorial of 
him, albeit oftener than once I have taken 


pounce-box and pen-knife in hand, in order to 
make it a fit and proper vehicle for my own 
very best writing. But I pretermitted it, find- 
ing that my hand is no longer the hand it was, 
or rather that the breed of geese is very much 
degenerated, and that their quills, like men's 
manners, are grown softer and flaccider. Where 
it will end God only knows ; I shall not live 
to see it. 

Alas, poor Jacob Eldridge ! he little thought 
that within twelve months his glorious master, 
and the scarcely less glorious poet, would be 
no more ! In the third week of the following 
year was Master Edmund buried at the charges 
of the earl; and within these few days hath 
this lofty nobleman bowed his head under the 
axe of God's displeasure ; such being our gra- 
cious queen's. My kinsman Jacob sent unto 
me by the Alcester drover, old Clem Fisher, 
this, among other papers, fearing the wrath 
of that offended highness, which allowed not 
her own sweet disposition to question or thwart 


the will divine. Jacob did likewise tell me in 
his letter, that he was sure I should be happy 
to hear the success of William Shakspeare, our 
townsman. And in truth right glad was I 
to hear of it, being a principal in bringing it 
about, as those several sheets will shew which 
have the broken tile laid upon them to keep 
them down compactly. 

Jacob's words are these : — 

*' Now I speak of poets, you will be in 
a maze at hearing that our townsman hath 
written a power of matter for the playhouse. 
Neither he nor the booksellers think it quite 
good enough to print : but I do assure you, on 
the faith of a Christian, it is not bad ; and 
there is rare fun in the last thing of his about 
Venus, where a Jew, one Shiloh, is choused 
out of his money and his revenge. However, 
the best critics and the greatest lords find fault, 
and very justly, in the words, 

< Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, 
dimensions, senses, affections, passions ? fed with the same 


food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same dis- 
eases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the 
same winter and summer, as a Christian is V 

*' Surely this is very unchristianlike. Nay, 
for supposition sake, suppose it to be true, was 
it his business to tell the people so? Was it 
his duty to ring the crier's bell and cry to them, 
the sorry Jews are quite as muck men as you 
are? The impudentest thing (excepting some 
bauderies) that ever came from the stage! 
The church, luckily, has let him alone for the 
present ; and the queen winks upon it. The 
best defence he can make for himself is, that 
it comes from the mouth of a Jew, who says 
many other things as abominable. Master 
Greene may over-rate him ; but Master Greene 
declares that if William goes on improving and 
taking his advice, it will be desperate hard 
work in another seven years to find so many as 
half-a-dozen chaps equal to him within the liber- 
ties. Master Greene and myself took him with 
us to see the burial of Master Edmund Spenser 


in Westminster Abbey, on the 19th of January 
last. The halberdmen pushed us back as hav- 
ing no business there. Master Greene told 
them he belonged to the queen's company of 
players. William Shakspeare could have said 
the same, but did not. And I, fearing that 
Master Greene and he might be halberded back 
into the crowd, shewed the badge of the Earl 
of Essex. Whereupon did the serjeant ground 
his halberd, and say unto me, — 

" * That badge commands admittance every 
where : your folk likewise may come in.' 

*' Master Greene was red-hot angry, and told 
me he would bring him before the counciL 

" William smiled, and Master Greene said, 

" ' Why ! would not you, if you were in my 
place V 

" He replied, 

*' ' 1 am an half inclined to do worse — to 
bring him before ih^ audience some spare hour.' 

** At the close of the burial-service all the 
poets of the age threw their pens into the grave. 


together with the pieces they had composed in 
praise or lamentation of the deceased. William 
Shakspeare was the only poet who abstained 
from throwing in either pen or poem, — at 
which no one marvelled, he being of low estate, 
and the others not having yet taken him by the 
hand. Yet many authors recognised him, not 
indeed as author, but as player; and one, 
civiller than the rest, came up unto him tri- 
umphantly, his eyes sparkling with glee and 
satisfaction, and said consolatorily, 

** * In due time, my honest friend, you may 
be admitted to do as much for one of us.' 

*' ' After such encouragement,'' replied our 
townsman, *' I am bound in duty to give you 
the preference, should I indeed be worthy.' 

" This was the only smart thing he uttered 
all the remainder of the day ; during the whole 
of it he appeared to be half lost, I know not 
whether in melancholy or in meditation, and 
soon left us." 

Here endeth all that my kinsman Jacob 


wrote about William Sbakspeare, saving and 
excepting his excuse for having written so 
much. The rest of his letter was on a matter 
of wider and weightier import, namely, on the 
price of Cotteswolde cheese, at Evesham fair. 
And yet, although ingenious men be not among 
the necessaries of life, there is something in 
them that makes us curious in regard to their 
goings and doings. It were to be wished that 
some of them had attempted to be better ac- 
countants ; and others do appear to have laid 
aside the copybook full early in the day. Ne- 
vertheless, they have their uses and their merits. 
Master Eldridge^s letter is the wrapper of much 
wholesome food for contemplation. Although 
the decease (within so brief a period) of such a 
poet as Master Spenser, and such a patron as 
the earl, be unto us appalling, we laud and 
magnify the great Disposer of events, no less 
for his goodness in raising the humble than for 
his power in extinguishing the great. And 
peradventure ye, my heirs and descendants, who 


shall read with due attention what my pen now 
writeth, will say with the royal Psalmist, that 
it inditeth of a good matter, when it sheweth 
unto you that, whereas it pleased the queen's 
highness to send a great lord before the judg- 
ment-seat of Heaven, having fitted him by 
means of such earthly instruments as princes 
in like cases do usually employ, and deeming 
(no doubt) in her princely heart, that by such 
shrewd tonsure his head would be best fitted 
for a crown of glory, and thus doing all that 
she did out of the purest and most considerate 
love for him. It likewise hath pleased her high- 
ness to use her right-hand as freely as her left, 
and to raise up a second burgess of our town 
to be one of her company of players. And ye, 
also, by industry and loyalty, may cheerfully 
hope for promotion in your callings, and come 
up (some of you) as nearly to him in the pre- 
sence of royalty, as he cometh up (far off indeed 
at present) to the great and wonderful poet, 
who lies dead among more spices than any 


phoenix, and more quills than any porcupine. 
If this thought may not prick and incitate you, 
little is to be hoped from any gentle admoni- 
tion, or any earnest expostulation, of 

Your loving friend and kinsman, 

E. B. 

ANNO ^T. SU^ 74, DOM. 1599, 

DECEMB. 16; 









.*~^ " 

. ^u